Golden State Warriors distance themselves from Palihapitiya who said: ‘Nobody cares about what’s happening to the Uyghurs’

Golden State Warriors distance themselves from Palihapitiya who said: ‘Nobody cares about what’s happening to the Uyghurs’

Palihapitiya made the comment on the “All-in Podcast” on Saturday, after co-host Jason Calacanis brought up US President Joe Biden’s “very strong” stance on the alleged human rights abuses faced by the Uyghur minority in China.

“Nobody cares about what’s happening to the Uyghurs, okay? You bring it up because you really care, and I think it’s nice that you care, the rest of us don’t care,” Palihapitiya said, while Calacanis reacted in surprise.

“I’m just telling you…a very hard, ugly truth. Of all the things I care about, yes, it is below my line.”

Co-host David Sacks said the average person would care when the topic is presented to them, but Palihapitiya continued: “I care about the fact that our economy could turn on a dime if China invades Taiwan … I care about climate change … I care about America’s crippling and decrepit health care infrastructure.

“But if you’re asking me: ‘Do I care about a segment of a class of people in another country?’ Not until we can take care of ourselves, will I prioritize them over us.”

The 45-year-old billionaire investor also said that the concept of sustaining human rights globally is a “luxury belief.”

“We don’t do enough domestically to actually express that view in real, tangible ways,” he said. “So until we actually clean up our own house, the idea that we step outside of our borders … about somebody else’s human rights track record, is deplorable.”

In a statement to CNN on Monday, the Warriors distanced themselves from Palihapitiya’s comments: “As a limited investor who has no day-to-day operating functions with the Warriors, Mr. Palihapitiya does not speak on behalf of our franchise, and his views certainly don’t reflect those of our organization.”

The NBA did not respond to CNN request for comment.

A close-up view of the Warriors team logo.

‘I come across as lacking empathy’

Palihapitiya is listed as an executive board member on the Warriors’ website. CNN has learnt Palihapitiya owns 2% of the Warriors.
Following an outpouring of criticism on social media, Palihapitiya addressed his comments on Twitter, posting a statement with the caption reading in part: “Important issues deserve nuanced discussions.”

“In re-listening to this week’s podcast, I recognize that I come across as lacking empathy. I acknowledge that entirely. As a refugee, my family fled a country with its own set of human rights issues so this is something that is very much a part of my lived experience.

“To be clear, my belief is that human rights matter, whether in China, the United States, or elsewhere. Full stop.”

Enes Kanter says he will change his name to Enes Kanter Freedom and become US citizen
Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter Freedom was one of the prominent critics of Palihapitiya’s comments on the Uyghurs. Freedom recently changed his name from Enes Kanter. He told CNN his new last name comes from what his teammates have been calling him.

In recent months, the 11-year NBA veteran has used social media and specially designed clothing during NBA games to bring awareness to and criticize China’s treatment of the Uyghur community, a Muslim minority in the country’s far west.

The US State Department estimates as many as two million Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minorities have been detained in internment camps in China’s Xinjiang region since 2017.

Former detainees allege they were subjected to intense political indoctrination, forced labor, torture, and even sexual abuse. China has repeatedly denied accusations of human rights abuses in the country.

Freedom has also raised awareness to China’s treatment of Tibet, Taiwan and Hong Kong, and has more recently called for a boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games in protest.

‘External interference’

Freedom’s comments have prompted a backlash in China, with Celtics games being pulled by Chinese video streaming site Tencent and the government criticizing Kanter’s comments.

With a clip of Palihapitiya’s comments, Freedom said on Twitter: “When [the NBA] says we stand for justice, don’t forget there are those who sell their soul for money & business like (Palihapitiya) the owner of (the Warriors), who says ‘Nobody cares about what’s happening to the Uyghurs.’

“When genocides happen, it is people like this that let it happen. Shame!”

When asked for their reaction to Palihapitiya’s comments, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Zhao Lijian said at a briefing on Tuesday: “I have not heard the relevant information you mentioned. However, what I can tell you is that Xinjiang affairs are purely China’s internal affairs, and we will never tolerate any external interference.”

In December, a London-based independent tribunal ruled that China committed genocide against Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang, accusing China’s senior leadership including President Xi Jinping of “primary responsibility” for acts perpetrated against Muslim minority groups.

A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the size of Palihapitiya’s stake in the Warriors.

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