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Human Rights

Golden State Warriors co-owner slammed for saying 'nobody cares' about Uyghurs

"I’m telling you a very hard ugly truth," he said, adding that "of all the things that I care about, yes, it is below my line."

Chinese persecution of Uyghurs
Chinese persecution of Uyghurs | Brian Minkoff

January 18, 2022 4:09am

Updated: January 18, 2022 7:22pm

Billionaire Golden State Warriors co-owner Chamath Palihapitiya is being slammed online after claiming "nobody cares" about the genocide of Uyghurs in Xinjiang by the Chinese Communist government, The Epoch Times reports.

"Nobody cares about what’s happening to the Uyghurs, okay? You bring it up because you care and I think it’s nice that you care. The rest of us don’t care," Palihapitiya said during Saturday's episode of "All-In with Chamath, Jason, Sacks & Friedberg," a podcast he co-hosts.

"I’m telling you a very hard ugly truth," he said, adding that "of all the things that I care about, yes, it is below my line."

Venture capitalist co-host David Sacks said Uyghurs were not a top issue for most people. Palihapitiya replied: "I care about the fact that our economy can 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 ask 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." 

He later added that he cannot do anything to help the Uyghurs.

The Muslim minority group is facing genocide, as confirmed by the U.S. government on several occasions. Between one and three million Uyghurs and other minorities are incarcerated in China, and regularly face torture, forced labor and sexual violence, according to the Center for the Prevention of Genocide.

NBA player Enes Kanter Freedom, who has stood up against Chinese persecution of Muslims for years, responded to Palihapitiya on Twitter.

”When @NBA says we stand for justice, don’t forget there are those who sell their soul for money & business," Kanter Freedom wrote. "When genocides happen, it is people like this that let it happen."

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) slammed the NBA team co-owner: "We’ve always known that the @NBA & many of its owners are happy to put profits over people. Now [Palihapitiya] is saying it plain as day: he doesn’t care that Communist China is committing genocide against the Uyghurs. He doesn’t care that millions are sent to forced labor camps," he wrote. "Communist China is imprisoning innocent people simply due to their Muslim faith & silence is appeasement."

Journalist Melissa Chan said: "Such a sad comment from someone who came to North America as a refugee from war-torn Sri Lanka — to have lost empathy for those suffering in the Global South."

After receiving pushback, Palihapitiya posted a statement Monday on Twitter. 

"In re-listening to this week's podcast, I recognize that I come across as lacking empathy. I acknowledge that entirely," he wrote. "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."

Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin responded to Palihapitiya, calling his statement a "non-apology" that "says exactly zero about the Uyghurs and AGAIN draws a false equivalence between the GENOCIDE in China and human rights issues in the United States. Horrendous."

The Warriors also issued a statement distancing themselves from their co-owner. "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 wrote.

Uyghur-American lawyer Nury Turkel, who was appointed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to vice chair of ​​the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, criticized the Warrior's statement. "Good that you try to distance yourself from [Palihapitiya's] genocide denialism. But say stop #UyghurGenocide loud and clear so we can see you aren't merely giving lip service."

Palihapitiya is a major donor to the Democratic Party, according to Breitbart News. As reported last year: “Palihapitiya, the CEO of venture capital firm Social Capital, gave more than $1 million to Democrats in the last election — including $250,000 to the Biden Victory Fund.” (The Biden administration distanced itself from Palihapitiya’s remarks on Monday.)