The NBA’s Boston Celtics is “persona non grata” in China after team member Enes Kanter posted a video on Twitter critical of the Communist regime’s treatment of Tibetans and others.
“My message for the Chinese government is free Tibet,” Kanter said in a video posted to Twitter and other social media platforms Wednesday. “Tibet belongs to Tibetans. I’m here to add my voice and speak out what is happening in Tibet.”
Kanter went on to say that the Chinese government’s “brutal rule” was taking away the people’s “basic rights and freedoms.”
The country’s Tencent streaming service cut a live broadcast of the Celtics and the New York Knicks on Wednesday, then announced that the future live Celtic games would only be reported through texts and photos.
Talking about freeing Tibet is illegal in the communist country.
According to a Washington Post report Thursday, China took Tibet in the 1950s, calling it a “peaceful liberation,” and a way to improve the poor country from its past.
While some Tibetans want independence, the regime uses extreme surveillance and imprisonment for those supporting such a notion.
At a news conference, the Post reported that China Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin called Kanter “clout-chasing, trying to get attention with Tibet-related issues.”
“Tibet is part of China,” Wang said in the Post story. “We welcome unbiased friends upholding objectivity across the world to Tibet. In the meanwhile, we never accept the attacks and smears on Tibet’s development.”
The Chinese Weibo social media platform got into the act when a Celtics fan sports page said it would no longer provide information about the team to its 600,000 followers.
“From now on, the homepage will no longer report any information about the Boston Celtics, and our Weibo will stop updating!” read the post from the account, Celtics Weibo Express. “Resolutely resist any behavior that undermines national harmony and the dignity of the motherland!”
Kanter, a Turkish Muslim, was one of Turkey’s leading political dissidents, calling out Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his reported crimes against his own people.
“You guys know my story because I play in the NBA,” Kanter said during a media event in Washington in 2019. “But there are thousands and thousands of stories out there that are way worse than mine. That’s why I’m trying to use my platform to be the voice of all those innocent people who don’t have one.”
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