Former Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter Freedom, who was excluded from the National Basketball Association (NBA) for his insistence on denouncing China’s poor human rights record, has recently been nominated for the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize . Meanwhile, Kanter met with dozens of bipartisan senators in the U.S. capital on Thursday to receive the Liberty Human Rights Award.
Former NBA star Kanter nominated for Nobel Peace Prize
Former NBA star Kanter, known for defending human rights and not bowing to money and power, tweeted on February 16: “I am honored and humbled to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.” He also retweeted an article in The Atlantic titled “We Are All Realists Now,” which mentioned that the NBA treats Kanter like it treats Uyghurs The same, “out of sight, out of mind”.
The article also mentioned that a Norwegian MP has nominated Kanter as a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize. The article said that 30 Nobel Prize winners had published an open letter calling on the Boston Celtics to stand with Kanter on the “right side of history” and not give up on him. Thousands of people liked and retweeted Kanter’s Nobel Peace Prize nomination, congratulating him.
Kanter was in Washington on Feb. 18 for a series of events, including a U.S. Senate Republican caucus lunch, meetings with dozens of senators and individual visits. Kanter also met with Sen. Menendez, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, a heavyweight Democrat.
In addition, Kanter visited the pro-democracy Venezuelan embassy in Washington to receive a certificate of recognition from Ambassador Carlos Vecchio, thanking him for his commitment to upholding democracy and freedom around the world, especially for his efforts to make the outside world aware of Venezuela’s presence in Venezuela. Efforts to suffer under the Douro criminal dictatorship.
Kanter also attended an awards ceremony Thursday night by the American Current Danger Committee and the Captive Nations Coalition for his contributions to freedom.
When accepting the award, Kanter said that he wanted to speak out for Hong Kong issues, but was silenced by the team. He has contacted many teammates and colleagues and promoted the value of human rights, but in exchange, “we have families to support” and “we have to take into account the sales of sneakers and jerseys in China”. Kanter said his mother had taught him to stick to his beliefs, even with sacrifices.
Kanter said that in the sports world, he took a lonely road. If you speak out on human rights in China, you have to face the consequences, and he has no regrets.
Kanter, from Turkey, played in the NBA for 11 years and changed his surname to “Freedom” when he became a U.S. citizen last November. He recently criticized China’s massive and systematic persecution of Uyghurs’ human rights on social media, wearing sneakers in solidarity with Uyghurs, speaking out on issues in Tibet, Taiwan and Hong Kong, and calling for a boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.
To this end, he encountered the exclusion of the NBA. His Boston Celtics traded him and several players to the Houston Rockets ahead of the February 10 NBA player trade deadline, but he was immediately waived by the Rockets, making him a no-team free agent.
In early February, Kanter, who once criticized Xi Jinping as a “dictator,” gave an exclusive interview to VOA in Boston, sending a message to former NBA center Yao Ming, who invited him to visit China, urging him not to be the voice of the CCP and Xi Jinping.
Kanter came to the U.S. from Turkey at the age of 17 to attend high school, where he learned what freedom is and made him one of the NBA’s leading players and human rights activists. He continues to criticize the Chinese government for its genocide against Uyghurs in Xinjiang, its oppression of Hong Kong, Tibet, and its ambitions to invade Taiwan.
Kanter also spoke to VOA about the pressures he faces as one of the few professional athletes who speak out for human rights, and the possibility of going into politics after retiring.