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NBA Player Highlights Nike’s Social Justice Hypocrisy and Silence On Uyghur Slave Labor

Jonathan Walker
Jonathan loves talking politics, economics and philosophy. He carries unique perspectives on everything making him a rather odd mix of liberal-conservative with a streak of independent Austrian thought.
Published: October 28, 2021
Kanter highlighted Nike's apathy to the suffering of Uyghurs in communist China.
Kanter highlighted Nike's apathy to the suffering of Uyghurs in communist China. (Image: Pexels via Pixabay)

Enes Kanter, an NBA player for the Boston Celtics, has criticized Nike for the company’s silence on communist China’s atrocities against the Uyghur community. The brand has previously been accused of using Uyghur slave labor in Xinjiang. Nike is one of the biggest sponsors of the NBA.

In a video posted to his Twitter account on Oct. 26, Kanter accused Nike of being “scared to speak up” against the oppression of Chinese minorities. He said that Uyghur slave labor, a “modern-day slavery,” is happening “right now” in communist China. 

The country’s entire footwear and apparel industry is “tainted” by the forced labor of Uyghurs. Though Nike says that it makes a “positive impact” in communities, the firm “remains silent” when it comes to genocide committed by communist China.

“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,” Kanter said in the video

He stated that Uyghurs are subjected to “political reeducation” and that they have no freedom of expression, religion, or even movement.

Kanter later invited Nike’s owner to a tour of Uyghur slave labor camps in a post that featured shoes with slogans like “Hypocrite Nike,” and so on.

“To the owner of @Nike, Phil Knight. How about I book plane tickets for us and let’s fly to China together. We can try to visit these SLAVE labor camps and you can see it with your own eyes,” Kanter tweeted. He also invited Michael Jordan and LeBron James to join them.

The presence of Uyghur slave labor in Nike’s Chinese supply chains has been documented in the past. A March 2020 report published by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute states that over 800,000 Uyghurs have been transported to various factories across communist China in the previous three years. 

These Uyghurs were “compelled” to work on production lines of at least 83 well-known brands including Nike. Based on ASPI’s information, a reporter from The Post visited a shoe factory in the Qingdao region that produced sneakers for Nike.

The reporter “found that it resembled a prison, with barbed wire, watchtowers, surveillance cameras, and a dedicated police station. Uighur workers at the factory, she was told, did not come on their own accord, nor could they return home for the holidays… Even amid the COVID-19 outbreak, Uighurs are still being transported to central Hunan province, an area that has been heavily affected by the virus,” the report states.

A few days earlier, Kanter brought attention to the persecution of Tibetans under Chinese communist rule, calling President Xi Jinping a “brutal dictator.” In his home country, Turkey, Kanter had opposed President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s authoritarian rule for which he faced nine arrest warrants.