Basketball player

Activist and basketball player Enes Kanter Freedom receives the 2022 Courage Award

Enes Kanter Freedom, an activist and basketball player who was reportedly kicked out of the NBA for speaking out against human rights abuses around the world, received the 2022 Courage Award at the 14th Annual Geneva Human Rights Summit and democracy.

“I’ve been following the Geneva Summit for a few years, and I’ve seen so many champions, so many heroes – it inspires me”, Freedom mentioned during the awards ceremony on Wednesday. “We come from different countries, different colors, different regions, but I feel like we have to come together and fight together.”

Each year, the Geneva Summit present two prestigious awards at its event: the Courage Award and the Women’s Rights Award. These awards are presented annually to outstanding individuals who demonstrate bravery and courage in upholding the values ​​of the summit.

Freedom, which changed its name in November 2021, has since become a voice for the oppressed in China and around the world. In interviews and wearing his “freedom shoes”, he spoke out for the rights of Uyghurs, Tibetans, Hong Kongers and others.

In February 2022, he was traded from the Boston Celtics to the Houston Rockets, who quickly let him go. Many suspect the NBA is punishing him for speaking out against China and trying to silence him.

Freedom, who has lived primarily in the United States for more than a decade, has used her substantial platform as an international star athlete to condemn Turkey’s pivot to authoritarianism under Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during of recent years.

Turkish prosecutors are seeking a four-year prison sentence for his alleged membership in the Gülen movement, a religious group inspired by Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen.

Turkey had canceled Freedom’s passport in 2017 and attempted to deport him from Romania on May 20, 2017 during one of his international trips. His passport was briefly seized by Romanian police at the request of the Turkish government. The NBA said it worked with the State Department to secure his release in Romania.

Erdoğan has been targeting supporters of the movement since the December 17-25, 2013 corruption investigations, which implicated then-Prime Minister Erdoğan, his family members and those around him.

Dismissing the investigations as a Gülenist coup and a plot against his government, Erdoğan branded the movement a terrorist organization and began targeting its members. Erdoğan stepped up a crackdown on the movement following a July 15, 2016 coup attempt that he accused Gülen of orchestrating. Gülen strongly denies any involvement in the failed putsch or any terrorist activity.