The Turkish NBA player’s comments come after the sportswear brand was criticized by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) for turning a blind eye to allegations of forced labor in China, arguing that they’re making American consumers complicit in Beijing’s repressive policies.
Rights groups, researchers, former residents, and some Western lawmakers say that Xinjiang authorities have facilitated forced labor by arbitrarily detaining around one million Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in a network of camps in the northwestern region.
“Your company says that you’re making a positive impact in our communities,” Kanter said. “But when it comes to China, Nike remains silent.”
Kanter criticized Nike for failing to address police brutality in China and for not speaking up about the oppression of minorities, such as the Uyghurs, in the country.
“You are scared to speak up,” Kanter said.
“Who makes your shoes in China? Do you even know? There are so many forced labor factories in China,” Kanter said. “For instance, Uyghur forced labor. A modern-day slavery. And it is happening right now in China …”
“Did you know that almost the entire apparel and footwear industry is tainted by Uyghur forced labor? Many well-known global brands are implicated,” he continued. “And yes, that includes one of the NBA’s biggest sponsors, Nike.”
— Enes Kanter (@EnesKanter) October 25, 2021
“Nike claims that they do not allow any forced labor in their supply chains. Yet, they don’t have the receipts to prove it. … Don’t forget, every time you put those shoes on your feet, or you put that t-shirt on your back, there are some many tears and so much oppression, and so much blood behind it all,” he added.
Nike’s chief executive John Donahoe in June said that the corporation is a “brand that is of China,” amid recent allegations of the company being connected to human rights violations conducted by the CCP, the BBC reported.
“Nike likes to say ‘Just Do It.’ Well, what are you doing about the slave labor that makes your shoes? That slave labor that makes you rich,” Kanter said. “To the owner of Nike—Phil Knight—I have a message for you. How about I book plane tickets for us, let’s fly to China together. We can try to visit these slave labor camps and you can see with your own eyes.”
The Epoch Times has reached out to Nike for comment.
The clip is Kanter’s third denouncing China’s human rights record. On Friday, he posted a video criticizing the communist regime’s treatment of Uyghurs, and two days earlier, he condemned the regime’s treatment of Tibet in a similar video.
Dear Brutal Dictator XI JINPING and the Chinese Government
— Enes Kanter (@EnesKanter) October 20, 2021
His first video prompted a wave of both support and anger from social media users. Chinese-Australian cartoonist and political refugee Badiucao took to Twitter to thank Kanter for speaking out against the Chinese regime’s human rights abuses in Tibet.
However, on China’s government-monitored social media platforms like Weibo, there were many angry comments, with some Chinese calling for him to be fired, while others issued death threats. Similar comments were also posted by users to Kanter’s Instagram and Twitter accounts.
Weibo, one of China’s largest social media platforms, as of Thursday morning barred users from searching “Kanter” on its platform.
The NBA didn’t respond to a request for comment by The Epoch Times.
Reuters contributed to this report.
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist and currently a news reporter at The Epoch Times. She holds a master’s in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.