In an emotional video to his followers and everyone watching, Turkish NBA player Enes Kanter called out Nike for not standing up to modern-day slavery in the Chinese province of Uyghur.
Raising concern for the lack of human rights
Boston Celtics player Enes Kanter has been active recently in calling out injustice towards the labor workforce in the Chinese province of Uyghur. In a video, Kanter called out China which is a continuation of his criticism of the Chinese government and how they diminish the fundamental human rights of their people working in those factories. This is a rather complex issue going on for quite some time, but Kanter wanted to voice his concern about Nike using those workers for their products and profits.
When it comes to China, Nike remains silent. Kanter also added 'you don't address police brutality in China. You don't speak about discrimination against the LGBTQ community. You don't say a word about the oppression of minorities in China. You are scared to speak up.'
Profit Before Everything Else
As we all know, a significant majority of brands have their production factories in China to keep production costs as low as possible. To give you a bit more context, the Xinjiang Uyghur region in China is predominantly populated with Muslims. There were reports of Chinese concentration camps where those people were held and forced to work long hours with minimum protection and respect for their rights. Actually, to be more precise, they have no rights whatsoever.
Who makes your shoes in China, do you even know? There are so many forced labor factories in China. For instance, Uyghur forced labor, modern forced slavery, and it's happening right now in China. Millions of Uyghurs are detained, sold, and assigned to work at forced labor camps, prisons and factories across the country. They are under constant surveillance with long working hours and poor living conditions.
The underlying problem here is very complex, and it doesn't just include Nike but also the NBA and the Chinese government. Kanter pointed out Nike is one of the NBA's biggest sponsors, and they've never fully disclosed their relationship with those labor camps where a lot of their products are made by abused workers. According to Kanter, there is a strong tie between the Chinese government and Nike in keeping the status quo because it benefits both sides. It's hard to say how much of that is true, but usually, where there is smoke, there is fire as well.
Nike and NBA Need To React
Kanter also mentioned how 'many well-known global brands are implicated, and yes, that includes one of the NBA's biggest sponsors, Nike. Nike claims they don't allow any forced labor in their supply chain, yet they don't have the receipt to prove it. They have not publicly committed to cutting ties with the Chinese government labor. They have not provided clear timelines or updates about their to end this. Don't forget that every time you put those shoes on your feet, or you put that t-shirt on your back; there are so many tears and oppression and so much blood behind it all.'
The connection between China and the NBA is also a very peculiar one in which the NBA is afraid to say anything wrong about their government. China has been one of the most important markets for the NBA, approximately worth around $500 million, and it will be interesting to see if Kanter's message gets some traction in the near future. The reality is that profits come first, and even though everyone is talking about respecting human rights, those people in China have no rights whatsoever, and they are used for cheap labor where all the profits go directly to those big brands like Nike.