|Anastasia Lin, Canada’s Miss World entrant, spoke out about murky, government-sanctioned organ transplant programs in China. Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press|
Anastasia Lin, the Miss World contestant whose advocacy for victims of human right abuses in China has infuriated Beijing, appears to have regained her voice.
On Wednesday evening, pageant organizers gave Ms. Lin, a Chinese-born Canadian, the green light to speak to the news media, ending a three-week standoff in Washington that had drawn unflattering attention to a storied beauty pageant that has become increasingly dependent on Chinese corporate sponsors.
According to friends and relatives of Ms. Lin’s, employees of the British-owned beauty pageant had warned her that she would be ejected from the competition if she spoke publicly about murky, government-sanctioned transplant programs that human rights advocates say rely heavily on the organs of murdered prisoners of conscience.
China has denied the allegations, saying that organ donations in the country are voluntary.
In a brief phone interview, Ms. Lin, 26, declined to discuss whether she had been silenced and praised the Miss World Organization for allowing her to compete in the finals, which will be televised Sunday night and are expected to draw a global audience of one billion. “To their credit, they did give me this platform, and I’m able to speak freely now,” she said.
She also said the pageant’s executive director, Julia Morley, had given her permission to attend the premiere of a feature film, “The Bleeding Edge,” that stars Ms. Lin and seeks to dramatize the cruelties of what human rights advocates describe as Chinese government-run programs that harvest the organs of prisoners.
In an emailed statement to The Hollywood Reporter, Ms. Morley said she had never barred Ms. Lin from the premiere, which is scheduled for Wednesday night in Washington. The event is sponsored by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, an organization with obvious enmity for China’s authoritarian government.
Last year, China blocked Ms. Lin from attending the Miss World finals in Sanya, the southern Chinese resort city that has hosted the finals a half-dozen times since 2003. She said pageant officials had made little effort to intervene on her behalf, but they allowed her to retain the Miss Canada title for another year, paving the way for her participation in the 2016 finals.
Ms. Lin sought to focus the interview on her project, which aims to raise awareness about Beijing’s persecution of Falun Gong, a spiritual movement that is banned in China. Adherents face imprisonment, and those who refuse to renounce the movement are often subjected to torture.
Ms. Lin and other critics of the Chinese government say Falun Gong practitioners who die in custody are unwilling providers of organs for the nation’s lucrative transplant industry. “China does not have a viable voluntary transplant system, so someone has to die,” she said. “It’s not like the organs grow on plants.”
She has few illusions that her awareness campaign will make it past China’s strict censors, but she said her appearance in the finals might inspire others willing to stand up to the authorities.
During a visit to Taiwan this year, she described running into a tour group from mainland China. She was stunned, she said, when a number of people recognized her and then asked to be photographed by her side.
“Despite 60 years of censorship, people don’t believe everything they hear on the news,” she said, referring to Chinese reports over the past year that have sought to demonize her. “I may end up standing in the last row this year, but if they are able to see me, I hope people will be encouraged.”
Source: The New York Times, 12/14/2016