Enes Kanter calls out Nike for ‘silence’ over human rights abuses in China

Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter (13) during Celtics Media Day in Canton MA. Picture: David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports/via REUTERS

NBA star Enes Kanter, currently of the Boston Celtics, is calling out Nike for what he deems the brand’s silence over ongoing injustices against minorities in China, namely the mostly Muslim Uyghur population.

Kanter began taking a stance on the issue in recent days through messaging on custom footwear, choosing to double down during last night’s road game against the Hornets.

The Celtics centre wore a pair of Air Jordan 11 Lows scrawled with messaging including “made with slave labour” and “hypocrite Nike” and blood-like splatters.

He continued his messaging on social media, posting a video to both his Instagram and Twitter accounts elaborating on his position. He argues that Nike supports minorities in America but doesn’t do enough in areas like China.

“Nike stands with Black Lives Matter, Nike stands with Stop Asian Hate, Nike stands with the Latino community, and Nike stands with the LGBTQ community. But when it comes to China, Nike remains silent,” Kanter said.

“You do not address police brutality in China. You do not speak about discrimination against the LGBTQ. You do not say a word about the oppression of minorities in China … Who makes your shoes in China? Do you even know? There are so many forced labour factories in China. For instance, Uyghur forced labour. Modern day slavery is happening right now in China.”

In another post, Kanter shared images of his customised Air Jordan 11s and asked Nike co-founder Phil Knight to accompany him on a trip to China.

“We can try to visit these slave labour camps and you can see it with your own eyes,” the NBA star wrote.

Although human rights groups have raised concerns over China’s treatment of Uyghurs in recent years (the BBC notes that it’s believed China has detained more than one million against their will), there is no evidence than any Nike factories are connected to forced labour.

Nike did not immediately return a request for comment.

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