Enes Kanter says Nike is ‘afraid to speak out’ against China and wears ‘Modern Day Slavery’ shoes in protest of treatment of Uighurs


NBA star Ennis Kanter has doubled down on his criticism of China and called on Nike to do more to fight injustice in the country.

The Boston Celtics center, who has been outspoken about the treatment of minorities in China, wore custom shoes in its team’s win over the Charlotte Hornets on Monday emblazoned with the words “Modern Day Slavery” and “No More Excuses.”

On Monday, he posted a video on Twitter calling on Nike for its silence on injustice in China.

“Nike still speaks out loud about injustices here in America, but when it comes to China, Nike stays silent,” Kanter said. Mail which used the hashtags #HypocriteNike and #EndUyghurForcedLabor.

“You don’t deal with police brutality in China, you don’t talk about discrimination against the LGBTQ community, you don’t say a word about the persecution of minorities in China, you’re afraid to speak up.”

Kanter’s criticisms focus in particular on the injustices felt by the Uyghur community — the US State Department estimates that as many as 2 million Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities have been detained in internment camps in Xinjiang since 2017.

In a three-hour interview with CNN, conducted in Europe where he now lives in exile, a former investigator turned whistleblower revealed rare details about what he described as a systematic campaign of torture against Uyghurs in the region’s concentration camp system.

China has repeatedly denied allegations of human rights abuses, saying the centers are necessary to prevent religious extremism and terrorism.

“Who makes your shoes in China? Do you even know?” Kanter added that the shoe industry was “tainted” by forced labour.

There are a lot of forced labor factories in China. For example, the Uyghur forced labor, it’s modern slavery, and it’s happening right now in China.

Millions of Uyghurs are currently being held, sold, and assigned to labor camps, prisons, and factories across the country. They are under constant surveillance, with long working hours and poor living conditions.

“Don’t forget, every time you put that shoe on your feet, or put that shirt on your back, there are a lot of tears and a lot of oppression and a lot of blood behind it all.”

READ: Boston Celtics game broadcast in China pulled after Enes Kanter’s pro-Tibet posts

Ennis Kanter wore shoes with an anti-slavery message against the Charlotte Hornets on Monday.

Earlier this year, Nike issued a statement saying that it did not export products from the Xinjiang region.

“Nike is committed to ethical and responsible manufacturing, and we adhere to international labor standards,” the statement read.

“We are concerned about reports of forced labor in and related to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

“Nike does not source products from XUAR and we have confirmed with our contract suppliers that they do not use textiles or yarns from the region.”

Nike was not immediately available for comment on Kanter’s latest video when asked by CNN.

Kanter ended the video by inviting Nike co-founder Phil Knight and high-profile ambassadors LeBron James and Michael Jordan on a trip to China so they could “watch [it] With your own eyes” where shoes are made.

“Nike likes to say ‘Just Do It’ — well, what do you do about the slave labor that makes your shoes? That slave labor makes you rich.”

“Nike should be a participant in this. Stop the hypocrisy, stop modern slavery now.”

Last week, Kanter criticized China’s treatment of Tibet, which prompted Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin to tell a press briefing that the NBA player was “trying to get attention” and that his remarks were “not worth refuting.”

As a result, Chinese video streaming site Tencent stopped broadcasting the Celtics’ season-opening game against the New York Knicks, while fans took to Chinese social media to denounce Kanter and the Celtics.

It comes two years after Daryl Morey, then-general manager of the Houston Rockets, stoked the debate between the NBA and China with a tweet — later deleted — in support of pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. Morey resigned after a year.

Kanter, who grew up in Turkey, has previously been outspoken in defending various political causes, including criticism of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

He faced death threats and criminal prosecution of his father as a result.

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