American basketballer Enes Kanter has doubled down on his criticism of the Chinese government, posting a video calling attention to the human rights abuses suffered by the Uyghur people.
It comes amid a backlash over his call for Tibetan independence, which has seen China remove broadcasts of all Boston Celtics NBA games.
The Celtics player said: “There is a genocide happening right now. Right now as I speak this message.
“Torture, rape, forced abortions and sterilisations, family separations, arbitrary detentions, concentration camps, political re-education and forced labour.”
There have been widespread reports of China oppressing and breaching the human rights of the Uyghur people in its western Xinjiang province.
Chinas said these claims are “baseless” and has repeatedly denied any mistreatment.
Kanter – who earlier this week spoke out against the “cultural genocide” in Tibet – labelled China’s leader, Xi Jinping a “heartless dictator”.
“All of us must spread the word and call on the Chinese government to free the Uyghur people,” he said.
He singled out the leaders of Muslim-majority countries, criticising them for “staying silent”.
He said: “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 prioritise 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.”
He said the same went for his fellow Muslim athletes, asking: “Why are you staying silent?
“Mohammed Salah, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Amir Khan… Say something. Do something. Speak up. Your silence, your inaction is complicit.”
On Thursday, Chinese tech giant Tencent cut its stream of a game between the Celtics and the New York Knicks, and social media was filled with legions of fans expressing their dismay.
A Celtics fan page on Weibo, a Twitter-like service, wrote: “Any information on the team will cease to appear on this Weibo. Any behaviour that undermines the harmony of the nation and the dignity of the motherland, we resolutely resist!”
Kanter’s name also appeared to be blocked on Weibo.
In 2019, the manager of the Houston Rockets, Daryl Morey, tweeted his support for protesters in Hong Kong – a statement much less provocative than Kanter’s.
Tencent severed ties with the Rockets, as did the Chinese Basketball Association.
Morey later deleted his tweet but the fallout continues to this day.
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