An NBA player has earned the ire of Chinese fans and authorities after posting pro-Tibet messages on social media.
Speaking out: Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter announced in a video posted on Wednesday that he was adding his voice to “speak out against what is happening in Tibet under the Chinese government’s brutal rule.”
- Addressing Chinese President Xi Jinping as “brutal dictator,” the center said, “My message to the Chinese government is ‘Free Tibet. Tibet belongs to Tibetans.’”
- The video came out on the same day he wore sneakers emblazoned with the words “Free Tibet” during a game against the New York Knicks. In the video, he wears a shirt with the Dalai Lama on it.
- “I say, ‘Shame on the Chinese government.’ The Chinese dictatorship is erasing Tibetan identity and culture,” Kanter went on.
More than 150 Tibetan people have burned themselves alive!! — hoping that such an act would raise more awareness about Tibet.
— Enes Kanter (@EnesKanter) October 20, 2021
- In a follow-up video, the player called Jinping the “heartless dictator of China” and urged him to “close down the SLAVE labor camps and free the UYGHUR people!”
Heartless Dictator of China,
XI JINPING and the Communist Party of China.
I am calling you out in front of the whole world.
Close down the SLAVE labor camps and free the UYGHUR people!
— Enes Kanter (@EnesKanter) October 22, 2021
- Kanter, who is of Turkish heritage, is one of the NBA’s most outspoken players on socio-political issues.
- His criticisms of Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have led to his Turkish passport getting revoked.
- The basketball star has previously expressed fears that his life could be in danger at the hands of Turkish agents.
- His posts have since generated thousands of retweets and messages of support from fans.
— Athiswamy (@athitheboss) October 22, 2021
— भारतीय /인도 사람 / הוֹדִי (@Tricolour_First) October 22, 2021
I love you for standing up for Tibet, man 🙌 – if Celtics back you up, I’ll buy an official replica shirt with your name on – even though I live in UK, have only very distant Celtic connections & dont really follow basketball (but do support “free Tibet”).@freetibetorg @celtics https://t.co/p76BdMD8HO
— dreadnowt (@GDrybala) October 22, 2021
Immediate backlash: Following the post, playback for the Celtics-Knicks game coverage became unavailable on local Chinese streaming platform Tencent, with its sports division further indicating that upcoming Celtics games will no longer be streamed.
- The platform similarly “punished” the Houston Rockets in 2019 after the team’s then-general manager Daryl Morey tweeted an image voicing support for Hong Kong protesters, NextShark previously reported.
- In addition to streaming services, Chinese leagues, sponsors, and partners cut ties with both the Rockets and the NBA.
- A fan account supporting the Celtics on Weibo condemned Kanter’s message and declared that it would no longer post about the team.
- “Resolutely resist any behavior that damages national harmony and the dignity of the motherland!” the account posted.
Featured Image via Enes Kanter