Enes Kanter blasts China’s human rights record, calling out leaders and athletes

<span>Photograph: Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports</span>
Photograph: Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports

Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter doubled down on his denunciation of the Chinese government by posting a video drawing attention to the human rights abuses suffered by the Uyghur people and other Muslim minorities. Kanter extended his criticism to Middle East leaders and prominent Muslim athletes, including Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah and former boxing champion Amir Khan, by equating their silence to complicity.

Related: Celtics’ China broadcasts erased after Kanter attacks ‘cultural genocide’ in Tibet

Kanter, who earlier this week spoke out on what he called “cultural genocide” in Tibet and called China’s leader, Xi Jinping, a “brutal dictator”, shared another video on Friday focusing on Uyghurs in the country’s Xinjiang region.

“Right now as I speak this message, torture, rape, forced abortions, sterilizations, family separations, arbitrary detentions, concentration camps, political reeducation, forced labor … this is all happening right now to more than 1.8 million Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region in northwestern China,” said Kanter, who wore a ‘Freedom for Uyghur’ T-shirt as he spoke into the camera.

“The Chinese government has been taking sweeping measures to crackdown on the Uyghur people simply because they embrace their own religion, their own culture, language, history and identity,” he continued. “The Uyghur region has become an open-air prison and surveillance state where freedoms are non-existent for the Uyghur people. The Chinese government has sent Uyghurs along with Kazaks, Tajiks and other Muslims groups to concentration camps for simply applying for a passport, for texting someone overseas or for believing in anything that does not align with the Chinese Communist Party’s agenda.”

Kanter went on to single out Pakistani prime minister Imram Khan, Saudi Arabia’s King Mohammed bin Salman, Abu Dhabi crown prince Mohamed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi, saying: “It’s shameful and sad how you have decided to prioritize money and business with China over human rights. You call yourself Muslims, but you are just using that for show. You simply do not care about people.”

Additionally, Kanter called out a number current and former prominent Muslim sports people, including Salah, Khan and NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. “Why are you staying silent?” he asked. “Say something. Do something. Speak up. Your silence and your inaction is complicity.”

Kanter ended the three-minute video with a pointed address to Xi.

Related: Enes Kanter calls Turkey's Erdoğan 'Hitler of our century' after airport detainment

“Heartless dictator of China, Xi Jinping, and the Communist Party of China, I’m calling you out right now in front of the whole world. Close down the slave labor camps and free the Uyghur people. Stop the genocide now.”

On Thursday, the NBA’s Chinese broadcast partner, Tencent, erased all highlights and livestreams of Celtics games after Kanter attacked government policy in Tibet. That video prompted a rebuke from China’s foreign ministry which accused him of “clout-chasing”.

Kanter, who is Turkish, has been a long-term critic of his country’s authoritarian leader, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. This week’s comments came after Kanter met Tibetans at a community center in New York.

Previously, Kanter, who was selected with the No 3 overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft, said he was left off Turkey’s national team for EuroBasket 2015 due to his political beliefs, a claim denied by national team coach, Ergin Ataman.