Mihrigul Tursun, a survivor of China’s concentration camp system, urged the National Basketball Association (NBA) in remarks to Breitbart News on Friday to condemn China’s human rights abuses.
Tursun also warned star player LeBron James, one of China’s biggest business partners in the league, to distance himself from the regime “because money cannot do everything.”
Tursun was participating in a march Friday organized by the East Turkistan Government in Exile in Washington, DC, the purpose of which was to demand that the administration of President Joe Biden act to protect the Uyghur people from the ongoing genocide they are enduring at the hands of the Chinese Communist Party. Tursun is an ethnic Uyghur Muslim from East Turkistan, an occupied western region China refers to as “Xinjiang,” and has testified to being forced into the Chinese concentration camp system three times between 2015 and 2018.
Tursun’s testimonies have provided some of the most detailed information the outside world has on the atrocities Chinese agents commit against Uyghurs and other ethnic minority Muslims in the country. She has said Chinese police arrested her after, with infant triplets, she returned home to her parents following studying abroad in Egypt. Among the many atrocities she endured, she has said, is the killing of one of her triplets and extreme personal torture to herself, including electrocution, beatings, drugging, and sleep deprivation.
The Chinese government has responded to Tursun’s claims by mocking them, declaring in state media that Chinese people “laughed” at her ordeal and scurrilously accusing her of carrying sexually transmitted diseases.
Tursun is one of the estimated three million people the regime of communist dictator Xi Jinping has locked in concentration camps.
The Communist Party claims the concentration camps are “vocational training centers” for uneducated Uyghurs.
The NBA’s business ties with China are estimated to be worth billions of dollars; individual NBA players separately make millions through sponsorship deals with Chinese companies. The NBA’s relationship with China is currently in the news because one player, Boston Celtics star Enes Kanter, launched a campaign last month to hold China accountable for human rights abuses, referring to Xi as a “brutal dictator” and specifically condemning the Uyghur genocide.
“I also don’t think every issue should be everybody’s problem as well,” James said in 2019 when asked about human rights abuses in China.
Tursun lamented to Breitbart News that many major brands, such as the NBA and Nike, “will start keeping silent because they don’t want to lose this good business, good relationship. They don’t want to think about humanity.”
“They don’t want to think about what happened [to] a lot of people, like genocide. They do not think about this – they just think about their own business,” Tursun said.
Tursun noted that Kanter’s advocacy has been noticed and celebrated in the Uyghur community.
“Enes Kanter, he talks about Uyghur [issues]. We are very appreciative. We hope, like this person, a lot of people get behind [the] Uyghur [cause and] help us stop genocide,” Tursun said.
Tursun urged those who have remained silent to consider her story.
“I am 30 years old now. I am with my twins here. My husband, my father, my sister, my brother, all my family members – I don’t have contact. I don’t know where they are, whether they are alive or dead,” she said. “I don’t have any information about them.”
“My two kids are disabled. The Chinese government did that to them,” she continued. “I don’t know if, [for] the rest of my life, I can have babies or not. … I am taking mental medicine for day and night [sic] because [of] panic attack[s], because [of] worry from this torture.”
Asked about James’s stance of not feeling compelled to advocate against China, Tursun asked the NBA player to reconsider.
“If you are me and if you have my situation for your family … if you have my situation in your country, what would you do? You need to tell the world, ‘Help me help my family,'” Tursun said. “But now, it’s not you. It’s come to me. It’s come to my people. I am doing this. You are human – do you want to think about your own money, your own business, or you want to think about humanity?”
“I ask him [James] to listen, to wake up because money cannot do everything,” Tursun said.