Enes Kanter, a NBA player has advocated for human rights using his platform. 

This latest position resulted in the suspension of all Boston Celtics games from the Chinese internet. 

Kanter had posted a social media video expressing support for Tibet, and calling Xi Jinping, the president of China, a “brutal dictator” one day before their loss to the New York Knicks in double-overtime in the Celtics’ season opener. 

Kanter said, “My message to the Chinese government: Free Tibet.” Kanter, who was wearing a shirt with the Dalai Lama on it, spoke into the camera. 

He said, “I am here to speak up about the events in Tibet.” The Chinese regime has made it impossible for Tibetans to enjoy their basic freedoms and rights. 

Kanter called the Tibet situation “cultural genocide” 

Beijing maintains an iron grip on Tibet, where Xi has escalated a campaign to stamp out the region’s identity and culture through “re-educational patriotism.”

The human rights group Amnesty International says the Chinese government regularly detains Tibetans for engaging in ordinary religious practices, which Chinese authorities deem “signs of extremism.”

In addition, the U.S. State Department’s annual human rights report says China has been monitoring and disrupting telephone and internet communications in both Tibet and Xinjiang. The government installed surveillance cameras inside Tibetan monasteries, the report says, and has used a broader surveillance network to intimidate political dissidents, religious leaders and individual Tibetans.

Beijing claims it does not violate the rights of Tibetans. According to Beijing, its development policies have eradicated poverty throughout the region.

Tencent streams NBA games online to millions of Chinese fans. They removed replays from past Celtics games, and it appeared that they were taking Boston out of the streaming schedule. 

Similar to the Houston Rockets 2019 game, when Daryl Morey, then general manager of Rockets, tweeted support for Hong Kong protesters. In February 2020 commissioner Adam Silver stated that Morey’s tweet had cost the league several hundred million dollars. 

Chinese state-run TV (CCTV), pulled the NBA from the air, and then returned with games during the 2020 NBA Finals. CCTV broadcast the 2021 All-Star Game and carried the remaining games, even though they had been streaming the whole season on Tencent. Tencent currently does not broadcast 76ers games.

Tencent is outside the U.S. the largest NBA partner. USA TODAY Sports did not receive immediate comment from either the company or league. 

China’s tension with Tibet is not isolated. China was criticized for its human rights violations in China’s Xinjiang Province, ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics. 

Kanter, a native of Turkey, has essentially been banished from that country due to his feud with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He hasn’t seen his family in years while facing constant threats. Kanter took issue in 2019 with Los Angeles Lakers Star LeBron James. He called Morey’s position “misinformed”. 

Kanter addressed Jinping and his “henchmen” two years later in front of the camera.  

He replied, “I hope I hear you,” Free Tibet. Free Tibet. Free Tibet. 

Jeff Zillgitt Contributing 

Follow Chris Bumbaca Twitter @BOOMbaca 

Source: USAToday.com

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