By Tenzin Sangmo
Protestors wearing T-shirt calling for Free Tibet in English, Tibetan and Chinese at the Nets vs. Raptors NBA game at Barclay Center on Friday night
DHARAMSHALA, October 19: Tibet rights activists protested alongside Hong Kong democracy activists at the Nets vs. Raptors NBA game in NYC on Friday night against the league’s kowtowing to China that surfaced after Houston Rocket’s Manager Daryl Morey tweeted “Fight for freedom stand with Hong Kong” two weeks ago.
NBA called the tweet “regrettable” as it may have offended people in China while Rocket’s owner Tilman Fertitta said it didn’t speak for the team, something Morey attested in subsequent tweets saying he is not representing anyone but himself.
The Chinese Basketball Associated ended its relationship with the Rockets after the tweet, while a China state broadcaster and Tencent Sports said they would suspend airing Rockets games.
The Tibetan protestors stood in a row wearing white t-shirts with Free Tibet written in English, Tibetan and Chinese and waved Tibetan flags to draw attention to the Chinese occupation of Tibet and continuing repression on freedom.
“The NBA, as well as corporations and people everywhere, should resist the oppressive influence of the Chinese government and stand with Tibetans, Uyghurs, Hong Kongers, and also citizens of China who are putting their lives on the line to fight for the very same freedoms we enjoy here in the US,” said Sonam Tso, Campaigns and Communications Director at Students for a Free Tibet said.
The New York Hong Kongers thronged the game in a bigger group and carried Morey’s tweet on placards and held banners asking “Morey or Money?”.
Donning black clothes and masks, they called out the Nets owner and Lebron James for attempting to manipulate Morey’s tweet. "Tsai & LeBron: Morey was right - NBA: Stand for freedom”
Echoing protestors concern that the league is abetting the Communist Party of China (CCP) in silencing the victims of its rule, Tenzin Dorjee, senior researcher at the Tibet Action Institute(TAI), said “Daryl Morey was right to speak out, and while we applaud the NBA for ultimately supporting his right to free speech, we are deeply disturbed that LeBron James and Joseph Tsai have chosen to prioritize profits over people’s rights.”
The protestors chanted slogans calling for freedom in Tibet, East Turkestan, and Hong Kong until security asked them to leave the Barclay center.
The activists plan to continue protests at NBA games across the U.S. and Canada.