A Turkish-American professional basketball player and an outspoken human rights activist, Enes Kanter Freedom, received the 2022 Geneva summit Courage Award in recognition of his “heroic efforts to sound the alarm on China’s brutal human rights abuses”.
Tibet was the first topic Kanter spoke on following a decade of raising his voice against the dictatorial situation in his home country Turkey, a report by Office of Tibet in Geneva said.
Shortly after adding his voice in support of Tibet, the Chinese authorities stopped broadcasting Boston Celtics’ games in Chinese, which “clearly” exposed “how much they (Chinese authorities) are scared”, said Kanter at the summit.
Representative Chhimey Rigzen of the Tibet Bureau presented a Tibetan traditional white scarf and thanked Kanter for his support for Tibet and other people who are forcibly silenced by the totalitarian regime, following the award ceremony.
A cross-regional coalition of 25 human rights organisations in February announced that its prestigious international human rights award will go this year to Kanter, an NBA athlete and activist currently risking his career to speak out against China’s persecution of the ethnic Uyghurs, said United Nations Watch, a non-governmental organisation based in Geneva.
Responding to media quires on his message to the Chinese government upon receiving the award, Kanter said, “What is happening in Tibet is cultural genocide, China needs to know Tibet belongs to the Tibetan people.
“The world will be free from war if all the leaders listen to the ‘beautiful message’ of His Holiness the Dalai Lama,” he said.
“The Dalai Lama inspired me to stand up for right, truth, freedom and human rights,” he added.
Raised in Turkey, Kanter has been targetted for daring to call out human rights violations by Turkish President Erdogan.
Turkey cancelled his passport, and imprisoned his father. On a 2017 visit to Indonesia, he barely escaped police officers that the Turkish government had sent after him.
When the basketball star condemned Chinese President Xi Jinping as a “brutal dictator”, his games were stopped from being telecast in China, with whom the NBA enjoys a lucrative partnership.