Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter came after China again on Friday and called out Muslim leaders and athletes as he brought to light the human rights abuses suffered by Uyghur Muslims.
Kanter, who called China’s Xi Jinping a “brutal dictator” in a video advocating for Tibet earlier in the week, put out another message focusing on Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region of China. Kanter was wearing a “Freedom for Uyghur” T-shirt as he spoke to the camera.
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“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,” he said.
“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. 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 put several Middle East leaders and current and former Muslim athletes on blast for their silence regarding the treatment of Uyghurs.
“All of us must spread the word and call on the Chinese government to free the Uyghur people. It’s so disappointing that the governments and leaders of Muslim-majority countries are staying silent while my Muslim brothers are getting killed, raped and tortured,” Kanter said.
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“I’m talking about you, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, Saudi King Salman, United Arab Emirates Mohammed bin Zayed, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi. It’s shameful and sad how you’ve decided to prioritize money and business with China over human rights. You call yourselves Muslims but you are just using that for show. You simply do not care about people.
“And this goes out to fellow Muslim athletes as well. Why are you staying silent? Mohammed Salah, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Amir Khan … Say something. Do something. Speak up. Your silence, your inaction is complicit.
Kanter saved his final words for Xi.
“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.”
The NBA and the Celtics didn’t immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
Kanter’s video echoed the criticism China received from 43 countries over its reported torture and repression of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang on Thursday.
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“We have seen an increasing number of reports of widespread and systematic human rights violations including reports documenting torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, forced sterilization, sexual and gender-based violence, and forced separation of children,” the 43 mostly Western countries said in their statement at the United Nations.
“There are severe restrictions on freedom of religion or belief and the freedoms of movement, association and expression as well as on Uyghur culture. Widespread surveillance disproportionately continues to target Uyghurs and members of other minorities.”
China’s U.N. Ambassador Zhang Jun denounced “the groundless accusations” and unfounded “lies” regarding Xinjiang and accused the U.S. and others of “using human rights as a pretext for political maneuvering to provoke confrontation.” He said the lives of the people in Xinjiang are getting better by the day and “your plot to obstruct China’s development is doomed to failure.”
Kanter put China on blast and supported the free-Tibet movement in a video Wednesday.
Tencent, China’s streaming giant, responded by pulling Celtics games off their air.
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Kanter isn’t the first one to express support for Uyghurs. Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert offered his own message last October.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.