Call on NBA to Resist China’s Influence and Stand Up for Human Rights and Freedom
NEW YORK — Tibetan rights activists protested alongside Hong Kong democracy activists at the Brooklyn Nets vs Toronto Raptors game today at the Barclay Center in New York City to draw attention to the issue of China’s occupation of Tibet and to send a message to the NBA, along with Nets’ owner, Joseph Tsai, and LA Lakers’ player LeBron James, that Houston Rockets’ Manager, Daryl Morey, was right to express his solidarity with democracy protesters in Hong Kong. The activists held signs and chanted slogans expressing opposition to Beijing’s attempt to use its economic might to silence voices of support for people struggling for freedom from Chinese rule, including Tibetans and Uyghurs, who are both facing severe repression under Chinese occupation.
The protesters wore shirts reading “Free Tibet” in English, Tibetan and Chinese and held a banner reading: “Tsai & LeBron: Morey was right, NBA: Stand for freedom”. They also held Tibetan national flags and signs reading “Don’t let China buy our silence, people are dying to be free”. They chanted slogans until security asked them to leave the Barclay Center, including calling for freedom in Tibet, Hong Kong and East Turkestan (Chinese: Xinjiang).
“It is crucial people of conscience around the world speak up for Hong Kongers who are battling for their freedom right now, and also for the people of Tibet, East Turkestan (Xinjiang) and China itself, where Chinese authorities are carrying out an unprecedented human rights crackdown” said Tenzin Dorjee, Senior Researcher and Strategist at Tibet Action Institute. “Daryl Morey was right to speak out, and while we applaud the NBA for ultimately supporting his right to free speech, we are deeply disturbed that LeBron James and Joseph Tsai have chosen to prioritize profits over people’s rights,” Dorjee continued.
“Joseph Tsai and LeBron James are on the wrong side of history on this issue” said Sonamtso, Campaigns and Communications Director at Students for a Free Tibet. “The NBA, as well as corporations and people everywhere, should resist the oppressive influence of the Chinese government and stand with Tibetans, Uyghurs, Hong Kongers, and also citizens of China who are putting their lives on the line to fight for the very same freedoms we enjoy here in the U.S.,” Sonamtso continued. “The unprecedented campaign of repression being carried out by the Chinese government in all areas under its control right now – including an attempt to wipe out the distinct Tibetan and Uyghur identities, and locking up and torturing more than one million Uyghurs in concentration camps – is well documented and must be opposed at all costs,” Sonamtso added.
Activists plan to continue protests at NBA games across the U.S. and Canada.