Enes Kanter Freedom, the most outspoken NBA player about human rights, especially China’s ongoing human rights abuses against Uyghurs in Xinjiang province, was nominated for the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize by one of the members of the Parliament of Norway. This great news has just come up after a poignant development and incident in his carrier and life. Freedom was first traded to Houston Rockets by the Celtics, and after that, he was waived by Houston Rockets. Freedom announced this as “the world will be shocked” on his Twitter account.
The cancellation of Freedom’s contract by the NBA triggered a massive outrage on social media, and NBA is loudly criticized for being under the influence of China after showing Freedom the door for being outspoken against the Chinese Communist Party. Senators, representatives, influential people, and many others stood by Freedom and supported him in these difficult days.
Just a couple of tweets of the US Senators are quoted here as; “He has taken a noble stand against genocide in China. Proud he’s an American and taking a stand for freedom!” Senator Mike Lee tweeted, “The CCP’s atrocities against its minorities—particularly the Uyghur people—include genocide and crimes against humanity. Met with @EnesFreedom to discuss China’s human rights abuses and our shared gratitude to live in a country that honors freedom of expression” Senator Mitt Romney tweeted, “The NBA has made a calculated choice to kowtow to the CCP and turn a blind eye to their genocide and oppression by firing @EnesFreedom I stand with Enes, who has bravely defended what’s right no matter what” Senator Marsha Blackburn tweeted.
While Enes Kanter Freedom is too vocal for the rights of others, he seems to be so quiet after what happened to him. This shows what a high quality he has for humanity. He just visited the U.S. capitol, met with high officials, and shared his story. One of the photos that Senator Mike Lee shared was iconic in which Freedom is seen with many senators around him. This is an appealing photo that complies with fundamental American values and beliefs.
Although Freedom has been actively defending human rights since 2016, nothing happened to him. NBA was always supportive and understanding for its athletes who talked about injustices. Unfortunately, Freedom’s case with China proved the opposite, and NBA couldn’t protect one of its players from the wrath of a dictatorial regime of China. At first, Freedom started talking about the injustices and human rights abuses in Erdogan’s Turkey. He even called Erdogan, the president of Turkey, a dictator, the Hitler of our era, but nothing happened to him. After all these critics of Erdogan and the human rights abuses in Turkey, he warmly welcomed everyone in the US and drew much media attention.
But everything had suddenly changed for him when he released a video on Twitter on Oct 20, 2021, and called Xi a “brutal dictator” with a T-shirt with the image of Dalai Lama. Freedom raised his concerns about Tibetans and human rights abuses in the region where they lived and said what happens in Tibet is a “cultural genocide” and “I can’t stay silent” in his video. That was when Freedom drew the eyes of evil on him and pressured him not to speak against the Chinese Communist Party, especially Xi, the president of China.
After Freedom called Xi a dictator, he became a trending topic on Twitter, and many influential people called him the “bravest player” of the NBA. It was not common for an NBA celebrity to talk against a dictator. So, people found Freedom’s comment brave, encouraging, and a sign of being a good human being.
After four months of this video being released, he was shown to the door and lost his job. Because Freedom didn’t stop talking about the human rights abuses against Tibetans, Uyghurs, Hong Kongese, Taiwanese under the dictatorial regime of China and he publicly and openly kept talking about injustices and abuses of the Chinese Communist Party. Because the rights of all these people are abused under the Chinese government, Freedom called all the world countries to boycott the Olympics that is taking place in China nowadays. After all these brave speeches of Freedom, many influential people from these parts of the world thanked Enes Kanter Freedom for taking a stance with them and supporting them in their struggle with the Chinese Communist Party. Tsai Ing-wen, the president of the Republic of Taiwan, thanked Enes Kanter Freedom for “standing with Taiwan” and said the nation will “always defend hard-earned freedom and democracy.” She also said international friends like Freedom “gives (Taiwan) strength.” This video and thank came right after Enes Kanter Freedom openly and publicly started defending the rights of those who face unimaginable abuses, torture, persecution, violence, and mall-treatments from the regime of the Chinese Communist Party.
With all these said, Enes Kanter Freedom began feeling the pressure for talking against China and thought that he might not get a new year contract at NBA. But NBA preferred to play a calculated game to get less disturbed between the ‘quarrel’ of Enes Kanter Freedom and Xi. Freedom’s team, the Celtics, was pulled out from the Chinese internet network, which was alarming for the NBA. It is reported that NBA makes more money from the Chinese market compared to America. It is believed that NBA didn’t want to risk the market and the profit it makes from it and took action against Freedom. While Enes defended himself as to why he is outspoken for the rights of others as “sometimes taking a stand is more important than your next paycheck,” NBA acted in the opposite direction and disproved Freedom and sadly showed that paycheck is everything over anything.
Following all these events, Enes Kanter Freedom shared excellent news of being nominated for the Noble Peace Prize on Feb 16th. Because of Freedom’s fearless speeches about human rights, he became one of the defenders of human rights at the global level and drew the attention of everyone. A member of the Parliament of Norway nominated him for Noble Peace Prize. Twenty-one people are awarded the Noble Peace Prize in the States, and none is a sportsman. If Freedom is awarded the Prize, he would be the first professional athlete awarded it from the States. In the world, Philip Noel-Baker, British politician, diplomat, academic, amateur athlete, and renowned campaigner for disarmament, received the Peace Prize for his contribution as an advocate of multilateral nuclear disarmament in 1959. Noel-Baker is the only person to have won an Olympic medal and received a Nobel Peace Prize. But Freedom would be getting it if he is awarded it for his campaigns against human rights abuses as a sportsman. That would be a milestone and good encouragement for sportsmen and sportswomen to talk more about injustices and human rights abuses. That would mean a lot for being able to have a better world.
On the other hand, while the Erdogan regime continues to abuse the rights of all the opponents to stay in power, Freedom’s family is abused and deprived of their fundamental rights. Because of Freedom’s outspoken nature against the Erdogan regime, he was ignored by the only media under the tutelage of the Erdogan regime available in Turkey. They never made news of anything about him positively in Turkey. While Freedom was applauded and praised in the US and everywhere with his human rights campaigns, he was insulted and demonized by the Turkish media. It was not just the Erdogan regime, but Kemalists and other ‘elites’ of the country also heavily insulted Freedom for talking about the human rights issues. They continually mocked him for being a sympathizer of Fethullah Gulen and insulted him for it at every opportunity. If Enes Kanter Freedom is received the Noble Peace Prize, Islamists, Kemalists, and all the marginal groups of Turkey would be dumbfounded and turned green with envy.
It is time to wait and see who will get the Noble Peace Prize this year. It is a tough competition, and last year 329 candidates for the Nobel Peace Prize for 2021, out of which 234 are individuals and 95 are organizations nominated for the Prize. No matter whether Freedom would be awarded the Prize or not, he already gained the hearts of millions of people across the world. And we are lucky to have such a ‘big guy’ who sacrificed his career for humanity and campaigns for the rights of silenced people anywhere in the world.