The Boston Celtics center, who has been outspoken about the treatment of minorities in China, wore custom shoes during his team’s victory over the Charlotte Hornets on Monday with the words “Modern Day Slavery” and “No More Excuses” written above.
On Monday, he posted a video on Twitter in which he called on Nike for its silence on injustice in China.
“You don’t talk about police brutality in China, you don’t talk about discrimination against the LGBTQ community, you don’t say a word about the oppression of minorities in China, you are afraid to speak up.”
Kanter’s criticisms have focused in particular on the injustice felt by the Uyghur community – the US State Department estimates that up to 2 million Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities have been held in internment camps in Xinjiang since 2017.
China has repeatedly denied the allegations of human rights violations, saying the centers are necessary to prevent religious extremism and terrorism.
“Who makes your shoes in China? Do you even know it? Kanter added that the shoe industry has been “tainted” by forced labor.
“There are so many forced labor factories in China. For example, Uyghur forced labor is modern day slavery, and it is happening in China right now.
“Millions of Uyghurs are currently detained, sold and assigned to work in forced labor camps, prisons and factories across the country. They are under constant surveillance, with long working hours and poor living conditions.
“Remember, every time you put these shoes on your feet, or put that T-shirt on your back, there’s so much tears and so much oppression and so much blood behind it.”
“We are concerned about reports of forced labor”
“Nike is committed to ethical and responsible manufacturing and we respect international labor standards,” the statement said.
“We are concerned about reports of forced labor in and related to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR).
“Nike does not source its products from XUAR and we have confirmed to our contract suppliers that they do not use textiles or yarns from the region.”
Nike was not immediately available to comment on Kanter’s latest video at CNN’s request.
Kanter ended the video by inviting Nike co-founder Phil Knight and renowned ambassadors LeBron James and Michael Jordan on a trip to China so they could “see [it] with your own eyes “where the shoes are made.
“Nike likes to say ‘Just Do It’ – well, what do you do with the slave labor that makes your shoes? That slave labor that makes you rich,” he added.
“Nike must be part of it. Stop hypocrisy, stop modern day slavery now.”
Last week, Kanter criticized China’s treatment of Tibet, leading Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin to say at a press briefing that the NBA player ” was trying to get attention “and that his words” were not worth refuting “.
As a result, the broadcast of the Celtics’ season opener against the New York Knicks was taken down by Chinese video streaming site Tencent, while fans took to Chinese social media to speak out against Kanter and the Celtics.
It comes two years after Daryl Morey, then general manager of the Houston Rockets, sparked a controversy between the NBA and China with a tweet – later deleted – in support of pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. Morey resigned a year later.
Kanter, who grew up in Turkey, has already championed various political causes, including criticism of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
As a result, he was the subject of death threats and his father’s criminal trial in the country.