Recently, the 26-year old New York Knicks center Enes Kanter was forced to miss a game in London against the Washington Wizards. The 6-foot-11 Turkish basketball player, an outspoken critic of the Erdogan regime, could not travel with his teammates to London for fear of his safety. The NBA star explained his fear of being a target by Turkish authorities outside the United States in an op-ed article in the Washington Post. Following this incident, Turkey is seeking an international Red Notice warrant from Interpol for his arrest. After he tweeted about his opposition to Turkey’s president Erdogan two years ago, the Turkish government targeted his family and arrested his father, a university professor. Enes’s dentist and his wife have also been imprisoned and a man has been arrested after his child took a picture with Kanter.
As some colorful Knicks fans and proud residents of New York, we would like to show our support and appreciation to Enes for standing up for justice and human rights. During these hard times, Enes became a voice for the silenced victims of the Erdogan regime. Unlike him though, we can still walk alone on the streets of New York City. Enes is a great supporter of Peace Islands Institute New York and has participated in our events. We thank him for being outspoken on behalf of many of the victims of oppression by the Erdogan regime, including us.
Enes has reasons to be fearful for his safety: In 2017 Turkish government sent police after him in Indonesia while he was running a basketball clinic for kids, and cancelled his passport while he was attempting to return back to the U.S. Last September, Erdogan’s spokesperson threatened to conduct ‘operations’ against Erdogan’s enemies in the U.S. Turkey’s government has established an agency in the name of “Office for Human Abductions and Executions” and has abducted 104 people from 21 different countries already.
Free speech is protected by the First Amendment in the U.S. Enes has a right to criticize the Turkish government and should not be punished for exercising his rights protected by the U.S. Constitution. We, like Enes, are grateful to live in the United States, a nation that supports those who speak out for the principles of free speech, human rights, and respect for the rule of law. We appreciate our senators and members of Congress who have met with him, listened to him and expressed their support.