Celtics' Enes Kanter Calls out Nike, Phil Knight over Chinese Human Rights Injustices

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVOctober 26, 2021

MIAMI, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 15: Enes Kanter #11 of the Boston Celtics looks on against the Miami Heat during a preseason game at FTX Arena on October 15, 2021 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter called out Nike and one of its co-founders, Phil Knight, for what he believes to be the company's continued inaction regarding China's treatment of minorities.

In a video posted to Twitter, Kanter discussed how Nike advocates social causes in the United States but doesn't in his view take the same approach abroad.

Enes Kanter @EnesKanter

Dear <a href="https://twitter.com/Nike?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Nike</a><br><br>Stop the modern day SLAVERY, now!!!<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HypocriteNike?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HypocriteNike</a><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/EndUyghurForcedLabor?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#EndUyghurForcedLabor</a> <a href="https://t.co/tvX2k3wE4X">pic.twitter.com/tvX2k3wE4X</a>

Enes Kanter @EnesKanter

To the owner of <a href="https://twitter.com/Nike?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Nike</a>, Phil Knight <br><br>How about I book plane tickets for us<br>and let's fly to China together.<br><br>We can try to visit these SLAVE labor<br>camps and you can see it with your<br>own eyes.<a href="https://twitter.com/KingJames?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@KingJames</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/Jumpman23?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Jumpman23</a> <br>you guys are welcome to come too.<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/EndUyghurForcedLabor?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#EndUyghurForcedLabor</a> <a href="https://t.co/241bg887JO">pic.twitter.com/241bg887JO</a>

Kanter previously criticized the Chinese government for its human rights abuses against the Uyghur people.

"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 (via the Guardian).

In April, Human Rights Watch released a report about past and ongoing "crimes against humanity against the Turkic Muslim population." According to the report, potentially up to one million people have been detained and "subjected to torture and other ill-treatment, cultural and political indoctrination, and forced labor."

The Washington Post's Anna Fifield reported in February that Qingdao Taekwang Shoes Co. employed Uyghurs who had been directed toward the factory by the Chinese government. Fifield described Qingdao Taekwang Shoes as one of Nike's "largest factories."

"The Taekwang factory is one of many where Uighurs are working 'under conditions that strongly suggest forced labor' to make goods for more than 80 established global brands, according to a forthcoming report from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, a Canberra-based think tank," she wrote.

Nike released a statement to say it was "concerned about reports of forced labor in, and connected to, the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region" and doesn't source products from the region. The company added that it was looking into "potential forced labor risks related to employment of Uyghurs, or other ethnic minorities from XUAR, in other parts of China."


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