BASRİ DOĞAN | AMSTERDAM, TR724
Enes Kanter Freedom, who came from the United States to Europe to meet with different civil society movements, had meetings in France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Freedom, who also participated in the ‘Justice’ march in front of the ECHR in Strasbourg, evaluated his week-long meetings for TR724 microphones.
How did you find the Netherlands? You know the Dutch are the tallest people in the world. I guess you didn’t have any difficulty in that regard here?
-The Netherlands is one of the most beautiful countries in Europe. It’s a country that holds a special place for me. For the first time in my life, the local and foreign people in the Netherlands didn’t ask questions like how tall are you, do you play basketball? From what I saw, all the Dutch people are tall. So, I didn’t have any difficulty in that regard.
You had about a week of meetings in Europe. First, there was an important action in France. You called on the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg for the unjust and unlawful imprisonment and dismissal of the post-coup decree (KHK) holders in Turkey. Can you evaluate this action for us? Why did you participate in this action, why was it important to you?
-The most important message of this action was to tell our imprisoned brothers and sisters that we haven’t forgotten them. And to give them the message that we will not forget them until we all are free. In my speeches in English and Turkish at that platform, I emphasized that none of us are free until all of us are free. Our imprisoned brothers and sisters will hear this exclusive interview with TR724. This is our belief. Secondly, this action aimed to create pressure on the European Court of Human Rights. What we want from them is justice in our country. Our struggle has never been against our flag, our country, or our people. We simply want rights, justice, and the freedom to live democratically. Or rather, we want a free press that can make our voices heard.
What caught your attention during the action? How was the atmosphere? What stayed with you?
-It went beyond being just our cause in terms of the sincere atmosphere there. For example, if you look, the local people of France showed their support for this action. There was a person from the French people in front of me during the march. They were protesting with us. In addition, many political figures were present. Thank God, the whole world heard about this oppression. The whole world is behind us and supports us against the persecution of service people. What we are trying to do now is to push parliaments, senates, and congresses in many countries like the ECHR into action. We want to provide them with concrete information. Actually, the action in Strasbourg was a very humane action. There was no insult or unruliness. These people love their country and are people who serve their homeland. Even while protesting, they were considerate not to disturb others. They were the kind of people who didn’t leave a single piece of garbage on the streets after the action.
-After the action in France, you came to the Netherlands. Undoubtedly, this is also an important center for Europe and the world. The European Court of Justice is here. Who did you meet with here?
-Actually, coming to the Netherlands was a trip that I had been planning in my mind for a long time. I came here to see my brothers and sisters in service, but I also had meetings with many political party leaders and commission chairs. I met with Jan Paternotte, the Parliamentary Group Leader of the Democrats 66 Party, and Sjords Wierma, the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Commission. We had a very important meeting.
What did you discuss in these meetings? What questions were asked to you? What topics were discussed?
-They invited me to speak in the 150-member Dutch Parliament to talk about human rights violations worldwide. I told them that I would participate in this invitation. I am very excited to come back to the Netherlands in October, three months later. I told the Dutch friends the following: Our struggle is not against our country Turkey and its people. We are also not a political group. What we want is simply human rights. It is for the release of people who are unjustly and unlawfully imprisoned. We discussed how they could help us on these issues. They are actually aware of the oppression in Turkey. They openly said, “We are behind your just struggle. We stand for rights, law, and justice. We will try to help in any way we can.” They asked me to convey these words to the 150-member Dutch Parliament. Your words will be heard throughout the Netherlands. In October, I will try to explain our grievances to the Dutch people through a speech in parliament.
Of course, this is very important. I can’t help but ask this question. You were an NBA star. You were at a point that millions of young people dream of, and you could have been at the peak of your career for another 4-5 years. Have you ever thought, “What have I done?”
-A large part of my life was spent playing basketball. My dream was to play in the NBA one day, and by the grace of God, that dream came true. I still love basketball very much. Playing basketball with my teammates in the NBA, competing with them, winning or losing, I enjoyed it a lot. But there was another situation: there were injustices happening in different parts of the world. Oppression was not only directed towards the people of service. There are about 50 to 55 countries in the world that are ruled by dictatorships. It starts with China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, and continues. So, we consider everyone as our brothers and sisters, whether they are Muslims or not. We try to be the voice of the oppressed as much as we can in the whole world. We never engage in politics. The issues we talk about are within the framework of human rights. Children, women, and men who are unjustly imprisoned. We have formed beautiful friendships. We also shared these injustices with Tibetan leader Dalai Lama, the religious leader of Christians, and the head bishop of Greece. We listened to their problems as well. We empathized with their troubles. That’s why speaking up is necessary. Here, we have the opportunity to explain the service movement and the perspective on universal values of Hodjaefendi (Fethullah Gulen). Opening doors, being the voice of the oppressed, it’s a different feeling. What we are doing is a duty of humanity.
Finally, you met with civil society organizations and Amnesty International in different cities in the Netherlands, and you met with those who live in the Netherlands and come from Turkey. How did you see them?
-I met with Dagmar Oudshoorn, the President of Amnesty International in the Netherlands. We also met with the department head who investigates human rights violations in China at their office. We developed a very good common idea.