'Slave labor': NBA player Enes Kanter accuses Nike of using Uyghur forced labor
Enes Kanter, a Boston Celtics player outspoken against the Chinese Communist Party, denounced Nike’s alleged use of forced Uyghur labor.
Kanter, who last week called on the “brutal dictator of China Xi Jinping” to end the Chinese suppression of Tibetan culture, turned his ire on sports apparel company Nike’s refusal to acknowledge human rights abuses at the hands of the Chinese government, despite being vocal about social justice issues in the United States such as Black Lives Matter and Stop Asian Hate.
“When it comes to China, Nike remains silent,” Kanter said in a three-minute video posted to his social media on Monday, “You do not address police brutality in China. You do not speak against discrimination against the LGBTQ community. You do not say a word about the oppression of minorities in China. You are scared to speak up.”
Kanter claimed that Nike, a major sponsor of the National Basketball Association, relies on Uyghur slave labor to manufacture their products for cheap. Nike has asserted that it does not source supplies from the Uyghur region, though Kanter said, “they don’t have the receipts to prove it.”
“Don’t forget every time you put those shoes on your feet or that T-shirt on your back, there are so many tears and so much oppression and so much blood behind it all,” he said. “Nike likes to say, 'Just do it.' Well, what are you doing about the forced labor that makes your shoes, the slave labor that makes you rich?”
Nike has denied sourcing products from the Uyghur region.
“We have been conducting ongoing diligence with our suppliers in China to identify and assess potential forced labor risks related to employment of Uyghurs, or other ethnic minorities from [Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region], in other parts of China,” Nike said in a statement. “Based on evolving information, we strengthened our audit protocols to identify emerging risks related to potential labor transfer programs. Our ongoing diligence has not found evidence of employment of Uyghurs, or other ethnic minorities from XUAR, elsewhere in our supply chain.”
Kanter, who is Turkish by birth but had his citizenship revoked, has arrest warrants from the Turkish government for his criticism of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The Uyghurs are a Muslim minority in northwestern China subject to oppression and reeducation because of their religious beliefs.