NBA player calls Xi “brutal dictator,” demands “Free Tibet”

Boston Celtics player Enes Kanter, who condemned Chinese President XI as “brutal dictator” while calling for a “Free Tibet.”  Image: screengrab.

DHARAMSALA, 21 Oct: A professional basketball player for the Boston Celtics of the National Basketball Association(NBA) has denounced Chinese President Xi Jinping as a “brutal dictator” and called on the Chinese government to “Free Tibet.”

“My message to the Chinese government is Free Tibet! Tibet belongs to Tibetans,” Boston Celtics basketball player Enes Kanter says in a video message he shared across his social media accounts.

The Boston Celtics centre says that “I’m here to add my voice and speak out about what is happening in Tibet under the Chinese government’s brutal rule. Tibetan people’s basic rights and freedoms are nonexistent. They are not allowed to study and learn their language and culture freely. They are not allowed to travel freely. They are not allowed to access information freely. The Tibetan people are not even allowed to worship freely.”

The 29-year-old baller adds that “for more than 70 years Tibetan monks, nuns, intellectuals, writers, poets, community leaders, activists and many more have been detained and sent to political reeducation classes, subject to torture like the interrogations and even been executed simply for exercising the freedom that you and I take for granted.”

The NBA player, seen in in the video with a T-shirt with a picture of the Dalai Lama enquires, “Did you know that simply owning a photo of the Dalai Lama in Tibet is a ground for arrest. Even flying the Tibetan national flag could get you arrested.” 

“I say shame on the Chinese government. The Chinese dictatorship is erasing Tibetan identity and culture. The cultural genocide in Tibet is so stifling that more than 150 Tibetan people have burned themselves alive!! — hoping that such a horrific act of sacrifice would raise more awareness about Tibet.”

He then says that after learning all of these, he can not stay silent and declares that “I stand with my Tibetan brothers and sisters, and I support their calls for Freedom.”

To the “brutal dictator of China, Xi Jinping his hunch men,” he has this  message; “I will say it again and again and again loud and clear, Free Tibet, FreeTibet, Free Tibet.” 

On Wednesday, Kanter has met with the Tibetan community members in New York. 

Earlier today, a some Tibetans attended the Madison Square Garden match where Boston Celtics played its first game of the 2021-2022 season against the New York Knicks carrying banners and the Tibetan National flag to acknowledge and thank Kanter for his support for the Tibetan cause and to cheer the Celtics.

Though Kanter did not play the match, he wore shoes emblazoned with the slogan “Free Tibet” as he sat on the bench which was designed by Badiucao, a Chinese political cartoonist, artist and rights activist based in Australia.

Reacting furiously over the development, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin has accused Kanter of “trying to get attention” and that his remarks “were not worth refuting”. 

“We will never accept those attacks to discredit Tibet’s development and progress,” he has said at a news briefing.

The shoes, worn by Kanter at the games with  “Free Tibet” written on it.

Meanwhile, Kanter has been wiped off from the internet across China, additionally, neither of the season-opening NBA games were shown on Chinese state television on Wednesday.

The NBA last faced backlash from China in 2019 over a tweet by then Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey in support of the Hong Kong protest movement.

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