Peaceful NBA game-goers holding signs in protest of China’s systematic abuse of Uyghurs and NBA’s ties to China were ousted from Monday’s night’s Pelicans vs. Wizards basketball game at Washington, D.C’s Capitol One Arena.
In an exclusive interview with LifeSiteNews, human rights activist and pro-life film producer Jason Jones, who was among Monday’s demonstrators, said he was inspired by NBA player Enes Kanter’s protest of Uyghur human rights abuses by China. Kanter expresses his opposition through shoe-inscribed messages such as “Free Uyghur,” “Free China,” and “Stop Genocide, Torture, Rape, Slave Labor,” a reference to the different kinds of atrocities committed by Chinese government recruits against Uyghurs in slave labor camps.
Kanter plays for the Boston Celtics, so “China’s response to this was to ban the Celtics from China,” said Jones. “So that gave me a great idea: let’s just troll China and NBA stadiums across the country with huge banners that say ‘Free the Uyghur,’ forcing them to cut the broadcast.”
The American Spectator noted that “broadcasts of the Boston Celtics game have been scrubbed from Chinese channels” because of Kanter’s messaging in support of targeted minorities in China. “Live feeds are cut and ticketholders are ejected for showing any apparel or messaging that could insult the Chinese Communist Party,” the Spectator reported.
Jones said that the news outlet has also reported that Kanter’s messaging and Jones’ organized peaceful protests “have cost the NBA $200 million already” because of canceled broadcasts.
Jones told LifeSiteNews that his organization brought Tibetans and Uyghur activists to the “nosebleed” section of Monday’s game protest “with huge banners and flags so people all over the stadium could see” their “Free Uyghur” sign and flags of the Uyghur homeland East Turkestan. They also brought a group positioned in the VIP section on the floor to hold up another large “Free Uyghur” sign.
“And of course then the police and the security asked us to leave,” Jones said. This was despite the fact that the protestors were not causing a disturbance, but merely holding signs for a cause, as many NBA game-goers have for years.
He later added that “what’s exciting” is that “the fans are always on our side, 100% percent.” He gave the example of a man selling Budweiser beer at Monday’s game, who exclaimed as they were being thrown out, “Why are you kicking them out, for telling the truth?”
Salih Hudayar, the current prime minister of East Turkestan in Exile, was among those kicked out of the arena. Hudayar called their removal an “attempt by the NBA to appease China.”
Jones says that just as the “mission” of his Vulnerable People Project “is to turn stumbling blocks into stepping stones,” he sees the scandals presented by the NBA and Nike’s ties to China, the upcoming Beijing Olympics, and even Pope Francis’s silence on Chinese genocide as opportunities to alert the world to the Uyghur genocide.