'I'm really scared': Miss World Canada says father threatened in China
Josh Elliott, CTVNews.ca
Published Monday, May 25, 2015 12:20PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, May 27, 2015 12:37PM EDT
The newly-crowned winner of the Miss World Canada beauty pageant says her father has been threatened in China because of her stance against human rights abuses.
Anastasia Lin, 25, won the Miss World Canada beauty pageant in Vancouver on May 16. She says she received a text message from her father three days later, urging her to stop talking about human rights abuses in China.
"You must stop all the political and human rights work you are doing, otherwise I will stop all support to you," he told her. Lin says she tried to call her father after receiving the text, but he refused to speak to her out of fear his phone might be tapped.
"Whatever you have sent to me, anything political, has been censored," he told her via text. "Do you know the secret security force has come to me?"
Lin says she won the Miss World Canada pageant in part because of her passion for human rights activism, and her efforts to spread awareness about abuses in China. She says her work seems to have upset the Chinese government, and her father is feeling pressure because of it.
"I'm really scared," Lin told CTVNews.ca by phone on Monday. "I'm afraid my dad is not telling me everything."
Lin was born in China's Hunan province and lived there for 13 years before moving to Canada with her mother. She went to high school in Vancouver, then attended the University of Toronto to get a degree in theatre. Her father stayed behind in China to run the family business, she said.
"We have a lot of family members there. I'm very concerned," she said.
Lin said she wants to see the Canadian government intervene, so that the secret security forces back off.
Lin has taken roles in several films that promote awareness about human rights abuses in China.
In particular, Lin has focused on the persecution of the minority spiritual group Falun Gong. Her role in the upcoming film "Red Lotus" tells the story of a woman who is imprisoned in China for being a practitioner of Falun Gong.
She said the political climate in China makes it almost impossible to be critical of the government. "No one really dares to speak out," she said. "They can hint it, but the security forces would have definitely threatened my father to keep it quiet."
Lin said she wants people to know her father has been threatened so Chinese security forces won't dare harm him. "Otherwise… no one would speak out and they can do whatever they want," she said.
Lin said several online news reports about her Miss World Canada victory were recently censored in China.
She hopes that if she can bring enough international attention to her father's plight, "they will just leave my family alone and not bother my father too much."
The Department of Foreign Affairs says it is "concerned" about the allegations. "Canada commends Ms. Lin for her efforts to raise awareness regarding these issues," a Foreign Affairs spokesperson said in a statement to CTVNews.ca.
"The promotion and protection of human rights is an integral aspect of our long-standing relationship with China and we routinely raise these issues with them," the spokesperson said. "We will continue taking a principled approach to foreign policy and to promoting Canadian values, including freedom of religion and freedom of expression, around the world."
Despite her fears for her family, Lin said she won't be silenced by the Chinese government.
"I can't stop speaking out," said Lin. "I wanted to be a voice for the voiceless, (and) if I don't speak out then no one is going to speak out."