As Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan consolidates his power and persecutes dissenters, some Turks are standing up to the authoritarian leader.
Many have sided with Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim cleric living in the Poconos who Erdogan blamed for planning a failed coup against him last year, which killed roughly 250 people.
Recently, Turkey has faced attacks from the Islamic State and the P.K.K., the main Turkish militant group.
In a heavy-handed response, Erdogan has aligned Turkey with Russia, causing many citizens of the secular nation to become increasingly worried about the future of their country.
Among them is Oklahoma City Thunder forward Enes Kanter, who has been an outspoken supporter of Gulen and a critic of the government.
In a retaliatory move by the government, Kanter’s father, Mehmet, was detained by Turkish authorities in early June. “HEY WORLD,” Kanter said on Twitter. “MY DAD HAS BEEN ARRESTED by Turkish government.”
MY DAD HAS BEEN ARRESTED
by Turkish government and the Hitler of our century
He is potentially to get tortured as thousand others
— Enes Kanter (@Enes_Kanter) June 2, 2017
Later, he released a statement on his website,
“My father is arrested because of my outspoken criticism of the ruling party. He may get tortured for simply being my family member.”
The arrest came as a surprise because Kanter’s father has disowned the basketball star due to his criticism of the government.
In May, Kanter was stopped at a Romanian airport after the Turkish embassy canceled his passport. He was later allowed to fly back to New York, but a few days later the Turkish government issued a warrant for his arrest accusing him of being a member of a terror group.
Yesterday, Vice sat down with Kanter for a wide-ranging discussion about his career and his criticism of the Turkish government.
Kanter believes the Turkish government targeted him because he is an outspoken critic of the government. If Kanter was sent back to Turkey he believes he would be put in jail and tortured.
“Probably the second day, you’ll hear from the news ‘Oh, he just got poisoned and he’s dead, he got food poisoning and he’s just dead. Or [they will] say its depression and he hanged himself, I don’t know I’m just giving examples.”
Kanter didn’t appear to be afraid of any impending danger, but he understands the importance of the role he is playing in Turkey.
“I love my country, I love my flag, I love my Turkish food,” Kanter told Vice.
“But this is way bigger than basketball, this is way bigger than the NBA, this is way bigger than everything I’m doing.
It doesn’t appear the issues in Turkey will be resolved anytime soon as the government continues its crackdown on free press and human rights.
Kanter deserves our respect and support for standing up to a ruthless government that is torturing thousands of its own people.