Sunday, December 5

An NBA player ‘tunes’ his Nike to denounce slave labor in China

“Nike likes to say ‘Just do it’ [Simplemente hazlo]. Well, what do you do about the slave labor that makes your shoes, the slave labor that makes you rich? “This phrase is part of the speech released this Monday on social networks by the Boston Celtics basketball player, Enes Kanter.

The pivot thus denounces the footwear and sportswear company, which is also one of the main sponsors of the NBA, the league in which Kanter plays. Last Monday, in a game against the Charlotte Hornets, the player wore shoes of that brand decorated with splatters imitating blood and with political slogans: “Modern slaves”, “no more excuses”, “freedom for Tibet”, “freedom for the Uyghurs “,” freedom for China “.

On Thursday 21, the player had also worn these shoes, in a meeting between the New York Knicks and the Celtics in which he did not get to jump onto the court. Hours later, the Chinese multinational Tencent, a partner of the NBA, stopped broadcasting current or archived Celtics games on its platforms, in apparent response to comments made by Kanter, EFE reported last week.

According to data from the company itself, Nike has 103 factories and more than 150,000 workers in China, 74% of them women. In a statement earlier this year quoted by The Washington PostNike said it was working with suppliers in China “to identify and assess potential risks of forced labor related to the employment of Uighurs, or other ethnic minorities.” The company has not specifically responded to Kanter’s allegations.

The Uighur minority in China is predominantly Muslim, a religion practiced by Kanter himself, who happens to be one of the best known Muslims in the NBA. In March, an Australian foundation denounced several manufacturers for manufacturing products using Uighur workers: “under conditions strongly suggestive of forced labor.” “Uyghurs are working in factories that participate in the supply chains of at least 82 world-renowned brands,” said that report. Several countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, describe Beijing’s policies towards this ethnic minority as “genocide.”

“You do not address police brutality in China, you do not speak of discrimination against the LGBT community (in China), you do not say a word about the oppression of minorities in China,” Kanter says in the video, posted under the hashtags #HypocriteNike and #EndUyghurForcedLabor.

Enes Kanter’s complaint now targets Nike, explicitly, but also other large manufacturers. The player, in the video broadcast on social networks, offers to travel to China and visit one of those factories with a Nike representative. In addition, it invites two NBA stars, LeBron James and retired Michael Jordan. Both have fashion lines within Nike and specifically Jordan lends his last name to several models of sneakers among the company’s best sellers.

“Don’t forget: every time you put on a pair of sneakers or wear one of their shirts, behind them are a lot of tears, blood and oppression,” says Kanter, adding: “Nike has to be part of this. Enough hypocrisy, enough of this modern slavery. ”