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Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter praised for calling Xi Jinping 'brutal dictator,' demanding China free Tibet

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Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter received praise as a uniquely courageous voice in the NBA after posting a video calling Chinese president Xi Jinping a “brutal dictator” and for China to free the region of Tibet. 

“My message for the Chinese government is free Tibet. Tibet belongs to Tibetans. I’m here to add my voice and speak out about what is happening in Tibet. Under the Chinese government’s brutal rule, [the] Tibetan people’s basic rights and freedoms are non-existent,” Kanter said in the video. 

“Brutal Dictator of China Xi Jinping, I have a message for you and your henchmen. I will say [it] again, again and again, loud and clear. I hope you hear me. Free Tibet. Free Tibet. Free Tibet,” he added. 

ENES KANTER RIPS CHINA’S XI AS ‘BRUTAL DICTATOR,’ STREAMING GIANT PULLS CELTICS GAMES

According to The New York Times, Boston Celtics games were pulled from the internet in China after Kanter posted the video. 

China has sought to maintain tight control over the region heavily influenced by its spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. Since taking over shortly after the 1949 Communist revolution, China has frequently cracked down on separatists’ independence efforts.

MCLEOD GANJ, DHARAMSHALA, INDIA - MARCH 20:   Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama speaks during the launch of the book'Gandhi and Health @150’ which the Dalai Lama released at Mcleod Ganj on March 20, 2019 in Dharamshala, India. The book is a collector’s item released on the occasion of the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.  His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is a buddhist monk who escaped into exile in 1959 after the Chinese suppression of a Tibetan uprising and since has been living as a guest of India in Mcleod Ganj near Dharamshala.  (Photo by Pallava Bagla/Corbis via Getty Images)

MCLEOD GANJ, DHARAMSHALA, INDIA – MARCH 20:   Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama speaks during the launch of the book ‘Gandhi and Health @150’ which the Dalai Lama released at Mcleod Ganj on March 20, 2019 in Dharamshala, India. The book is a collector’s item released on the occasion of the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.  His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is a buddhist monk who escaped into exile in 1959 after the Chinese suppression of a Tibetan uprising and since has been living as a guest of India in Mcleod Ganj near Dharamshala.  (Photo by Pallava Bagla/Corbis via Getty Images)

After NBA stars like LeBron James have been criticized for kowtowing to China, Kanter was praised for taking a stand against China in defense of Tibet, with some referring to him as the “bravest player in the NBA” and a “good human being.” 

BOSTON CELTICS STAR ENES KANTER: TURKEY WANTS TO PUNISH ME FOR CARING ABOUT HUMAN RIGHTS – BUT I WON’T STOP

The story attracted the attention of lawmakers like Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., and Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, as well.

Sep 27, 2021; Canton, MA, USA; Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter (13) during Celtics Media Day in Canton MA.

Sep 27, 2021; Canton, MA, USA; Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter (13) during Celtics Media Day in Canton MA.
(David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)

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Kanter, a Swiss-born Turk, previously spoke out against Turkey’s authoritarian government led by President Recep Erdogan. He says his criticism of the government led to his family being targeted as terrorists in connection with the failed coup that took place in the country in 2016. 

He has expressed fears that he could be targeted and killed by the Turkish government if he ever leaves the U.S.

Detail of the shoes worn by Enes Kanter #13 of the Boston Celtics with the wording "Free Tibet" during the first half against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on October 20, 2021 in New York City.

Detail of the shoes worn by Enes Kanter #13 of the Boston Celtics with the wording “Free Tibet” during the first half against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on October 20, 2021 in New York City.
(Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Fox News’ Ryan Gaydos contributed to this report.

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