Nba player

NBA player slams Trudeau for Canada’s inaction over Uyghur ‘genocide’

NBA star and human rights activist Enes Kanter Freedom says he is frustrated with what he calls Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s lackluster response to his calls for more action to help Uyghur Muslims in China.

The basketball player, who is currently a free agent after being cut by the Houston Rockets earlier this year, said he wrote to Trudeau last month to encourage the Liberal government to take a tougher line on the China at a time when the country allegedly committed genocide against a Turkish minority in Xinjiang province.

He said all he got in response was a form letter from someone in the correspondence unit and he feels snubbed.

In an interview with CBC News, Kanter Freedom said he didn’t believe his letter actually got into Trudeau’s hands.

“The response I received didn’t actually address any of the specific points I raised. I know if he had actually read it himself I would have gotten a more thoughtful response,” he said. he declared.

“He cares. I believe he cares about human rights, not only in Canada, but around the world. If he carries a heart, there’s no way he won’t respond to me.”

Kanter Freedom said he has joined senior US congressional leaders and senior European Union officials in his fight against human rights abuses in China, but there is no had a strong response from the Canadian government so far.

He said the decision by Trudeau and his ministers to abstain on a House of Commons motion last year officially declaring the horrors in China a genocide was another disappointment.

“Canada stands for freedom, democracy and human rights and yet it takes no real action against China. There is genocide and the whole world knows it, just condemning it is not enough,” said Kanter Freedom.

“Justin Trudeau, put yourself in these people’s shoes. If your wife was in a concentration camp, do you really think the status quo is good enough? That’s really unacceptable,” he said.

Diplomatic boycott will not save lives: Enes Kanter

Kanter Freedom was celebrated by Republican leaders in Washington, DC last month, with some crediting his advocacy for the passage of a new US law that effectively bans imports from Xinjiang, where Uyghur slave labor is believed to be rampant.

This US law, which Kanter Freedom has championed with the support of Democrats and Republicans, prohibits imports from Xinjiang unless people or companies are able to prove that the goods or materials are produced without labor. ‘slave. US President Joe Biden signed the bill into law in December.

In its June 15 letter to Trudeau, Kanter Freedom urged the Canadian government to take similar action against imports from Xinjiang.

He said Canada and the United States are economic powerhouses and if they act together to ban goods from the troubled region, it could force big companies, like Nike, which once had part of its supply chain in Xinjiang, to rethink doing business with China. .

Kanter Freedom, left, takes part in a press conference with Senator Leo Housakos, right, in June calling on the Canadian government to ban imports of goods made with forced labor in China’s Xinjiang region. (Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press)

At the very least, Kanter Freedom said, Trudeau must do something significant to signal that Canada will not tolerate China’s abuses, which would include torture, rape, forced sterilization and abortions, surveillance of the state and the internment of Muslim minorities in concentration camps in the country. northwestern province.

“It’s genocide. That’s how I would explain it. The situation is really bad and a diplomatic boycott – it’s not going to save lives,” Enes Kanter said, adding that it’s the money that matters most to China.

He urged Trudeau to adopt Conservative Sen. Leo Housakos’ bill as government policy, which goes a step further than what was passed by Congress south of the border.

If passed, S-204 would ban the importation of all goods made or produced wholly or in part in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

Kanter Freedom said the bill would prevent Canada from “inadvertently funding Uyghur forced labor and Chinese Communist Party human rights abuses.”

The US State Department said Chinese authorities used threats of physical violence, “forced drug use”, physical and sexual abuse and torture to force most Muslim detainees to work in factories producing drugs. clothing, shoes, carpets, yarn, food products, holiday decorations, building materials, solar energy equipment, consumer electronics, bedding, cleaning products, face masks, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and others goods.

According to US estimates, more than a million Muslims, including Uyghurs, Hui, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Tajiks and Uzbeks, were imprisoned in state-run internment camps, where labor forced is a central tactic used for repression.

This photo taken on June 4, 2019 shows the Chinese flag behind barbed wire at a residential compound in Yangisar, south of Kashgar in China’s western Xinjiang region. – A repeat of the Urumqi riots that left nearly 200 people dead a decade ago is hard to imagine in today’s Xinjiang, a Chinese region whose Uyghur minority is trapped in surveillance and detentions massive. (Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images)

Most private members’ bills — introduced by individuals rather than the government — do not receive ministerial support, parliamentary time, or do not go through all the necessary parliamentary steps to become law.

With Trudeau’s backing, S-204 would have a fighting chance, Kanter Freedom said.

In response to his call for action, an official in the Prime Minister’s Correspondence Department told Kanter Freedom in a June 25 letter that the government was “deeply concerned about the horrific reports of human rights abuses. ‘man’ in China and that he was ‘taking steps to address the risk of forced labor from any country.

Kanter Freedom said the response, which was three paragraphs long, reads like a cut-and-paste job — pre-written lines used to answer general questions about China.

The Prime Minister’s Office forwarded questions about Kanter Freedom’s letter to Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly.

Forced Labor Bill

In a statement, a spokesperson for Joly said the government “thanks Mr. Kanter Freedom for his work and advocacy on this issue.”

“Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Rob Oliphant, met with Mr. Kanter Freedom in Ottawa on June 6, 2022 to discuss human rights in Xinjiang. PS Oliphant reiterated that the Government of Canada takes any allegation of genocide extremely seriously and we remain deeply troubled by reports of human rights abuses in Xinjiang, including the use of arbitrary detention, political re-education, forced labor, torture and forced sterilization. »

The spokesperson said the government had already imposed sanctions on four Chinese officials and one entity for their involvement “in gross and systematic human rights violations in Xinjiang” and repeatedly called on the Chinese government to give UN officials “unimpeded and meaningful access to Xinjiang”. .”

While the government has been cold with Kanter Freedom and Housakos’ proposed import ban in Xinjiang, Labor Minister Seamus O’Regan said the government is concerned about forced labor around the world – and that he was prepared to take action to remedy it.

Last month, O’Regan said he would support a bill from Independent Que. Senator Julie Miville-Dechene, which requires Canadian companies to confirm that none of their products or components are made in sweatshops employing children or by people forced to work excessive hours for free or pittance.

Kanter Freedom said he became a Chinese hawk because he was sickened by what happened to his fellow Muslims there.

He said his advocacy was likely to blame for his stalled basketball career. He was cut after his pointed criticism sparked controversy in China, home to tens of millions of NBA fans – a cash cow for the league and its owners.

“I love the game and I don’t plan on retiring but I won’t rest knowing that across the ocean millions of people are losing their loved ones. It’s bigger than me, bigger than the NBA or basketball and bigger than my next paycheck,” he said.