Dec 15, 2016

Scarborough beauty queen Anastasia Lin reportedly muzzled at Miss World pageant

Anastasia Lin
Lin, who is representing Canada, was barred from entering China for last year's Miss World event over her criticism of Chinese human rights abuses.

Toronto Star
By PETER EDWARDS Star Reporter
December 14, 2016

Scarborough beauty queen Anastasia Lin is allowed to smile and look pretty at the Miss World pageant in Washington, but she’s reportedly barred from opening her mouth and speaking her mind about human rights abuses in China.

Pageant officials wouldn’t connect the Star with Lin, 26, on Wednesday.

Lin was blocked from attending last year’s Miss World pageant in China after her outspoken criticism of Chinese human rights abuses against Falun Gong practitioners.

American news reports say that she’s not allowed to speak with the media this time around.

And the hosts of a film in which she stars say she has been blocked from attending its Washington premiere tonight. The film sharply criticizes Chinese human rights practices and is being presented by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation.

“We were informed by the organization that she would not be able to attend tonight,” Marion Smith, a spokesperson for the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, said on Wednesday.

Smith said that pageant officials hadn’t passed on messages to her, despite assurances that they would.

“Their stated reason is that they have rehearsals and they were unable to release her to attend,” Smith said.

Lin, a Chinese-born actress and classically trained pianist, has posted on Twitter and Facebook about human rights conditions in China, especially regarding the Falun Gong meditation system. The Falun Gong is outlawed in China.

Amnesty International is among the human rights groups that has widely reported abuse of Falun Gong practitioners in China.

On Facebook and Twitter, she has posted clips from her film, The Bleeding Edge, in which she plays a Falun Gong practitioner who’s locked up and tortured for her beliefs. The organization sponsored the premiere.

She has also accused the Chinese government online of illegally harvesting organs from Falun Gong practitioners.

Sophie Richardson, China director of Human Rights Watch, said Lin has impressed her in the past, including during testimony before U.S. Congress.

“I think she is a very careful, factual person,” Richardson said. “… and who has requests that are not just reasonable but entirely consistent with international law.”

After she was barred from attending last year’s pageant in China, Lin had several speaking engagements, including talks at Oxford University, the National Press Club in Washington and the Oslo Freedom Forum.

Jeff Jacoby, a Boston Globe columnist, wrote two weeks ago that pageant officials interrupted his attempt to speak with Lin at the pageant.

“Two of them hustled Lin from the lobby, angrily accusing her of breaching the rules and causing trouble,” Jacoby wrote. “The third blocked me from talking to Lin, and assured me that my interview would be scheduled the next day. It wasn’t, of course.”

The Miss World pageant has been held six times in Sanya in southern China since 2003 as Chinese businesses have become a prominent sponsor of the event.

Lin released a prepared statement after she was blocked from competing in the 2015 Miss World pageant in China, saying she was barred because of her Falun Gong beliefs.

“My denial was unfortunate, but not entirely unexpected,” Lin said, adding she was not given a reason why she wasn’t allowed to attend.

“The Chinese government has barred me from the competition for political reasons,” Lin said in her 2015 prepared statement. “They are trying to punish me for my beliefs and prevent me from speaking out about human rights issues.”

She also said that many others have received similar treatment as “the Chinese government has used the threat of visa denials to punish dissidents or anyone with unapproved views, and to bring academics and journalists to heel.”

Lin continued: “The slogan of the Miss World competition is ‘Beauty with a purpose.’ My purpose is to advocate for those who cannot speak for themselves — those who suffer in prisons and labour camps, or whose voices have been stifled by repression and censorship.

“This is a very personal cause for me. When I was a child growing up in China, my job as a student council president involved enforcing ideological purity among my classmates, organizing them to watch Communist propaganda.”

Lin also praised Canada for teaching her the meaning of freedom.

“It was only after I moved to Canada that I discovered what it meant to think freely, to use my own mind, and to live without fear of arbitrary punishment or reprisal. I also learned about the severe persecution that people in China face for following these values.

“Hundreds of thousands of peaceful and law-abiding people have been imprisoned and tortured, and many have died or disappeared in custody after they refused to renounce their beliefs and swear allegiance to the Communist Party.”

In her 2015 statement, Lin lauded Chinese citizens who maintain their convictions, despite government pressure.

“They refuse to be silenced or submit to fear and coercion. They have the courage to live in accordance with their conscience, no matter the price.

“Their courage is a constant source of inspiration to me.”

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