Chinese President Xi Jinping (Left), NBA player Enes Kanter (Right). Image credit: Twitter/@EnesKanter Photograph:( AFP )
The basketball player said that he cannot stay "silent" and will stand with Tibetan brothers and sisters as he supports their cause for freedom
The National Basketball Association (NBA) player Enes Kanter on Wednesday (October 20) slammed Chinese President Xi Jinping and branded him as a "brutal dictator" over China's treatment of Tibet.
Taking to his social media accounts, the Boston Celtics center Kanter posted a nearly three-minute-long video wearing a T-shirt of the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader. In the caption, Kanter wrote, "Dear Brutal Dictator XI JINPING and the Chinese Government. Tibet belongs to the Tibetan people!"
In the video, Kanter said, "My message to the Chinese government is free Tibet. Tibet belongs to Tibetans. I'm here to add my voice and speak out about what is happening in Tibet. Under the Chinese government's brutal rule, Tibetan people's basic rights and freedoms are non-existent."
"There have been more than 5,000 political prisoners in Tibet the last 25 years. 5,000! Did you know that simply owning a photo of the Dalai Lama in Tibet is grounds for arrest. Even flying the Tibetan national flag could get you arrested. I say shame on the Chinese government. The Chinese dictatorship is erasing Tibetan identity and culture."
Watch the video here:
China claims that Tibet has long been part of its territory and that the military action was part of a "peaceful liberation" of the region. But human rights campaigners and exiles have accused China of religious repression, torture, forced sterilisation and cultural erosion through forced re-education.
"The cultural genocide in Tibet is so stifling that more than 150 Tibetan people have burned themselves alive, hoping that such a horrific act of sacrifice will raise awareness and attention towards the ongoing abuses within Tibet," the player said.
He also said that he cannot stay "silent" and will stand with Tibetan brothers and sisters as he supports their cause for freedom.
The 29-year-old highlighted the point that the communist ideology of China has been around for only about 100 years, however, the Buddhist civilisation, ideology and philosophy have been around for thousands of years.
"Brutal dictator of China, Xi Jinping, I have a message for you and your henchmen. I will say it again, again and again, loud and clear. I hope you hear me," Kanter further added in the video message.
On the other hand, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a news briefing on Thursday (October 21) that Kanter was "trying to get attention" and that his remarks "were not worth refuting". "We will never accept those attacks to discredit Tibet's development and progress," he said.
Kanter posted similar messages on his Instagram feed. On Wednesday, he wore shoes emblazoned with the phrase "Free Tibet' during the game against the New York Knicks made by Baidiucao.
(With inputs from agencies)