NBA player Enes K. Freedom of the Boston Celtics caught the world’s attention recently on social media for saying that “Taiwan is a DEMOCRATIC and FREE country” and that “Taiwan is NOT part of China, and NEVER will be”. Taiwanese Member of Parliament and lead vocalist of the metal band CHTHONIC had a virtual meeting with Freedom on December 3. In the meeting, Lim expressed his gratitude, and the two also had in-depth exchanges on human rights. They agree to push for a summit on human rights in Taiwan in the future, inviting people in entertainment and sports worldwide to participate.
Freedom is a Turkish-American NBA star. However, he was put on the wanted list and revoked of his Turkish passport for his open opposition against the dictator Turkish president Erdogan. He actively voices support for human rights issues worldwide, including openly calling for independence for Hong Kong, Tibet and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in Northwest China. Recently, Freedom showed support for Taiwan and unveiled a pair of sneakers design.ed by Chinese artist Badiucao* with Taiwanese flags on them. (Read more below.) The move was praised by his Taiwanese fans, and even President Tsai Ing-wen gave her thanks to Freedom.
After speaking up for Taiwan, some friends suggested that Freedom should get to know Freddy Lim. Not only because Lim is the lead vocalist of the iconic Asian heavy metal band CHTHONIC and has been on tours in the US several times including performing at events like Ozzfest, but also because Lim had become a member of the Taiwanese Parliament and has long paid attention to human rights issues. Last week, Lim took part in the parliamentary forum, which was part of US President Joe Biden’s Summit for Democracy, making him the only Member of Parliament who took part in Asia.
Besides thanking Freedom for speaking up for Taiwan and discussing human rights issues, Lim was also curious about whether Freedom had faced any pressure since people in sports seldom talk about politics. Freedom said that there are indeed people who gave him some pressure to please China, but the US is a free country and he would not be quiet. He said that though many of his friends in the NBA would not speak out loudly as he does, they would encourage him and give him their support.
Lim pointed out that, in the 1990s, many American and European musicians and actors had spoken for the Tibetan cause. Though he was only a high school student at the time, he was inspired to pay more attention to human rights issues worldwide. However, the voices of support have declined globally for a period of time, until recently when a new generation of leaders with opinions like Freedom began to speak for the repressed again. Lim said this is a very exciting trend of development.
Freddy Lim therefore suggested that, when the pandemic quiets down and border restrictions are eased, the two should work together to invite people in sports, entertainment, arts, and human rights to come to Taiwan for a summit meeting. It’s not only to support Taiwan, but also to take action for people under repressions worldwide. Enes Kanter Freedom supports the idea, and looks forward to pushing for this “summit for human rights” in Taiwan.
Lim also recommended a visit to his district, Wanhua, which is the oldest quarter of Taipei. Lim promised to give a guided tour to Freedom on Taiwan history and scenery. Freedom said he cannot wait to visit Taiwan.