Celtics’ Enes Kanter tells his people to keep fighting for freedom and justice

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 1) – Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter underscored the value of defending freedom and justice saying he will inscribe the word freedom in his jersey as the National Basketball Association allowed players to display their stance on social issues.

In an interview with CNN Philippines’ The Final Word with Rico Hizon on Wednesday night, Kanter emphasized that freedom and justice are the foundation to fight for what is right in the society.

“That word means so much to me, that’s why I think I’m gonna put freedom behind my jersey,” said Kanter, as the NBA recently allowed players to put social justice messages in their jersey ahead of the 2019-20 season reopening on July 30 in Orlando, Florida.

Kanter has been an outspoken critic of his native Turkey’s national government under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

In 2017, Turkish authorities canceled Kanter's passport and accused him of funding a terrorist group. They also reportedly requested his extradition last year.

Kanter took another jab at Erdogan last week in his Instagram post, holding a personalized NBA jersey which read 'Erdogan Sucks'.

The 6’11” Turkish center stressed that freedom meant more to him now as his father, Mehmet Kanter, a university professor, was released from prison in Turkey on June 20.

“But my fight is far from over, it is just getting started," he declared. "There are so many innocent people who need their freedom and justice and I will continue to fight for these people."

The Boston Celtics slotman also criticized the Turkish government’s persecution of political prisoners and journalists, noting that jails are packed with these individuals facing high risk of contracting COVID-19.

“That’s why I never back down against a dictatorship," he shared. "The Turkish government has been trying to silence me for a long time."

"But now, I will just do my best to get the people know what has been really going on in Turkey,” he added.

Despite being miles away from his home country, Kanter expressed hope that he will inspire others to stand up for their rights when they are suppressed by those in power.

“Stand for what you believe in and never back down," he said. Your human rights and freedom and justice are the most important in your life."

Kanter averages 8.2 points and 7.7 rebounds in the 51 games he played for Boston this season. The Celtics are one of the 22 teams who will see action again on the resumption of the 2019-20 NBA season.