US basketball star Kanter: athlete with a political message

Status: 19.11.2021 10:20 a.m.

Tibet, Hong Kong, suppression of the Uyghurs: The US basketball star Kanter has been causing a stir for weeks with postings in which he criticizes China’s leadership. He shows no consideration for donors.

By Steffen Wurzel, ARD-Studio Shanghai

Enes Kanter wants to know. The basketball star from the US professional league NBA has been actively fighting with China’s communist leadership for weeks. In concrete terms: The Boston Celtics player denounces the human rights violations by the Chinese government with short social media videos.

In his videos, the 29-year-old describes, for example, the precarious situation of many people in the Tibet region, the liquidation of civil society in the former British colony of Hong Kong and the systematic oppression of the Uyghur minority in the Chinese region of Xinjiang. In the meantime, Kanter also appears at rallies.

“My brothers and sisters in Hong Kong,” said Kanter at a recent human rights demonstration in front of the US Parliament building in Washington DC, “Free Hong Kong. You are not Chinese, you are not British, you are Hong Kong. Stay strong, stay brave.”

China completely censors Kanter

China’s state and party leadership reacts to the activism of the Turkish-born US basketball star as always in such cases: Without exception, all reports on the activities of the NBA professional are censored in Chinese online media, and comments from users are regularly and quickly deleted.

If you search for Enes Kanter on the Chinese Internet, you get zero results. Games by his club, the Boston Celtics, are no longer streamed online in China.

The fact that his activism also indirectly messes with the NBA, because the latter earns a lot of money with broadcasting rights in China, does not matter to the Swiss-born Kanter, as he himself says.

“When I wore my shoes with the words ‘Liberate Tibet’ on at the season opener in Madison Square Garden in New York, two guys from NBA management approached me before the game,” says Kanter in an interview with the US CNN TV station. “You have to take off your shoes. We beg you! We get a lot of calls in here about it!”

Calls from women and men within the US sports industry, for example, who are not interested in messing with the huge sales market of China.

Kanter does not want to back down, as he emphasized in an interview with CNN: “The games of my team, the Boston Celtics, are no longer broadcast in China – simply because I am talking about human rights. That is unacceptable. Some accuse me of politicizing . But that’s not true. I stand up for human rights. ”

Messages on shoes

Kanter did not take off the shoes with the “Liberated Tibet” print on it. On the contrary – he expanded his activism against China’s communist leadership. He now also wears shoes that read “Free the Uyghurs” and “Boycott the Beijing Winter Olympics 2022”.

Enes Kanter works closely with the artist and graphic designer Badiucao. “Anyone who dares to tell the truth in China or something that deviates from the opinion of the government will be punished,” said the 35-year-old artist in an interview with Indian television broadcaster WION.

That is why Baduicao has lived in exile in Australia for years, where he has been designing posters with biting messages and clothing in which he denounces human rights crimes in China.

More awareness through political statements

Both the Australian artist and the US professional basketball player are clearly benefiting from her political activism. The awareness of Badiucao and Kanter has recently increased significantly, especially in the USA.

NBA pro Enes Kanter provokes China’s leadership

Steffen Wurzel, ARD Shanghai, 19.11.2021 · 09:38

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