Former Utah jazz player Enes Kanter — now Enes Kanter Freedom — has been touring Capitol Hill for the past two days, including meeting with the two Utah senators, to talk about China’s record on of human rights and its influence on the NBA.
Freedom, a vocal critic of the Chinese and Turkish governments, attended a closed-door lunch with Republican senators on Wednesday hosted by Utah Sen. Mike Lee.
The Hill reported that according to senators in the room, the 10-year NBA veteran spoke about China’s growing influence on the NBA and how players and other personnel who speak out against the record of China’s human rights are facing a blacklist.
Lee, the chairman of the Republican Senate Steering Committee, said he wanted an explanation from the NBA as to why Freedom was traded by the Boston Celtics and then unceremoniously dropped by the Houston Rockets.
“I would love an explanation from the NBA, really. I think a lot of people would love an explanation from them,” Lee told The Hill.
The Jazz drafted Freedom with the third overall pick in the 2011 draft. He spent 31⁄2 seasons in Utah before being traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder. He was most recently with Boston until he was traded to Houston, who released him on Monday.
Born in Switzerland and raised in his parents’ native Turkey, he legally changed his name to Enes Kanter Freedom to become a US citizen last November.
“He took a noble stance against the genocide in China. Proud that he is an American and that he defends freedom! Lee tweeted.
Freedom has been a strong voice against dictatorial regimes around the world and called for a boycott of the 2022 Winter Games currently underway in Beijing. He criticized Chinese President Xi Jinping for alleged human rights abuses, particularly against ethnic Uyghur Muslims in the Xinjiang region. He called China’s policy in Tibet “cultural genocide”.
Freedom is also a harsh critic of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He accused Erdogan’s administration of harassing his family and issuing an international arrest warrant against him for his support of Turkish dissident Fethullah Gülen.
Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, met with Freedom on Thursday to discuss human rights abuses by the Chinese Communist Party.
“The CCP’s atrocities against its minorities – especially the Uyghur people – include genocide and crimes against humanity,” Romney tweeted.
Romney called for a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics last March. President Joe Biden announced in December that the United States would not send an official delegation to China for the Games, citing ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses. man.
The CCP’s atrocities against its minorities, especially the Uighur people, include genocide and crimes against humanity. meet @EnesFreedom to discuss human rights abuses in China and our shared gratitude to live in a country that respects freedom of expression. pic.twitter.com/9HbH3phVEc
— Senator Mitt Romney (@SenatorRomney) February 17, 2022
After Freedom called Xi a “brutal dictator” in a video, the Celtics game broadcast and highlights were pulled last year by the Chinese government.
He told “Firing Line” on PBS last week that his professional basketball career would likely be cut short due to his criticism of Chinese politics.
“Every time I have a conversation with someone in the NBA or one of my ex-teammates, they’re like, ‘Listen, this is your farewell tour. Have fun with it, enjoy it. , I hope you win a championship because I don’t think you’re going to sign another contract after this year,” he told PBS.
A member of the Norwegian Parliament nominated him for a Nobel Peace Prize. Last Thursday, 30 Nobel laureates released a letter calling on the Celtics to stand with Freedom “on the right side of history” and not “let him down as a player,” according to The Atlantic.
GOP senators at lunch Wednesday were captivated by her story, according to The Hill. They hailed his human rights advocacy and criticism of the Chinese government as “very inspiring” and “incredible”.