A part-owner of the Golden State Warriors has backtracked after saying that “nobody cares” about the human rights abuses suffered by the Uyghur people at the hands of Chinese authorities.
Chamath Palihapitiya, a billionaire venture capitalist, posted a clarification of his comments to Twitter on Wednesday. “I recognize that I came across as lacking empathy. As a refugee, my family fled from a country [Sri Lanka] with its own set of human rights issues so this is something that is very much part of my lived experience. To be clear, my belief is that human rights matter, whether in China, the United States, or elsewhere.”
Palihapitiya’s comments were made on the All In podcast. He was discussing why Joe Biden’s support for the Uyghurs had not helped the president’s poll ratings.
“Let’s be honest, nobody cares about what’s happening to the Uyghurs,” Palihapitiya said. “You bring it up because you really care, and I think that’s nice that you care. The rest of us don’t care.
“I’m telling you a very hard, ugly truth. Of all the things that I care about, it is below my line.”
He added that caring about human rights around the world is a “luxury belief”.
“The reason I think that is 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 our borders, with us morally virtue-signaling about someone else’s human rights record, is deplorable.”
The Warriors soon 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 team said in a statement.
There was also pushback from within the league. Boston center Enes Kanter Freedom, who has previously spoken about human rights issues in China, posted a video of Palihapitiya’s podcast to Twitter along with the comment: “When @NBA says we stand for justice, don’t forget there are those who sell their soul for money & business like @chamath the owner of @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!”
Last month, a tribunal in the UK said that the Uyghurs have been subjected to what amounts to genocide by Chinese authorities.
“Hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs – with some estimates well in excess of a million – have been detained by PRC [People’s Republic of China] authorities without any, or any remotely sufficient reason, and subjected to acts of unconscionable cruelty, depravity and inhumanity,” the tribunal’s report said. “Sometimes up to 50 have been detained in a cell of 22 sq metres.”