Miss Canada will be vying for more than the winner’s tiara when she competes in the annual Miss World pageant in Washington this weekend. Anastasia Lin wants to tell a global TV audience about the evil of organ-harvesting.
Lin was due to compete at Miss World last year when it was hosted by China but was barred from entering the country due to her activism against persecution of Falun Gong, a meditation practice that she follows and China’s government has outlawed.
UK-based Miss World is allowing her to compete again this year in the US. Some US media organisations say Miss World, which has Chinese corporate sponsorship, has prevented them from speaking to Lin.
But she was allowed to speak to The Associated Press in an interview today where she talked forthrightly about her cause, although she sidestepped questions about whether she had faced restrictions.
“Everybody is tied economically with China. China’s soft power is so huge that no one really dares to speak up,” said Lin, 26, at a hotel just outside Washington at the National Harbor.
Lin, who was born in China and moved to Canada with her mother at age 13, has riled China’s government with her public advocacy. She has alleged that tens of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners have been killed so their organs could be harvested and sold for transplants. She has spoken out at a US congressional hearing, and since her exclusion from last year’s pageant in China, she has attracted world media attention and given testimony before the British and European parliaments.
She says the Miss World pageant, where contestants each present a cause or platform, presents another opportunity to speak out.
“I’m talking about organs being taken from prisoners of conscience, meaning citizens who have not done anything wrong but to speak their mind and believe what they believe in. It’s like innocent citizens being killed for their organs and their body parts sold for profits. It’s happening and people need to pay attention to it,” Lin said.
Chinese Embassy spokeswoman Fang Hong said the allegations of the Chinese government harvesting organs are “sheer fabrications of the Falun Gong cult.” She claimed Falun Gong’s “spiritual control” of its practitioners has led many to self-mutilation and suicide.
The Chinese government outlawed Falun Gong as an “evil cult” in 1999, saying the group had attracted 70 million followers and was a threat to social stability.
As of 2015, the government claimed it was ending the long-standing practice of involuntarily harvesting the organs of executed prisoners for use in donor transplants, and had replaced it with a voluntary donor system, but international medical professionals and human rights advocates question whether that has happened.