WASHINGTON – The cause of human rights in China is attracting glamor to Capitol Hill. Last week, Richard Gere. This week, a contender for Miss World.
Actress Anastasia Lin, who made human rights part of her winning bid in May to become Canada's contestant to this edition of the global beauty pageant, testified Thursday on religious persecution in China. The 25-year old Lin, who was born in China, plays an imprisoned practitioner of the outlawed Falun Gong sect in an upcoming Canadian movie, "The Bleeding Edge."
Last week, Hollywood star Gere, a longtime activist for freedom in Tibet, testified to another congressional panel on repression by Chinese authorities of the Buddhist followers of their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.
"Through my encounters with persecution victims and their family members, I have found that these practitioners of Falun Gong — who have been marginalized, defamed and vilified in China for the past 16 years — are noble people," she told the Congressional-Executive Commission on China. She said practitioners are imprisoned and tortured for their beliefs.
China's authoritarian government outlawed Falun Gong as a threat to social stability in 1999.
Lin's commentary may not bode well for her chances of making it to Miss World. The December pageant is being held in Sanya, China.
Lin, who moved to Canada when she was 13, said her father in China has already come under pressure from authorities there. He was proud of her becoming Miss World Canada but soon urged her to stop human rights advocacy or he would have no choice but to sever contact with her. Lin said she no longer gets to speak with her father.
"I don't know how it feels like to be tortured by a prison guard, but now I know the deep fear probably felt by many Chinese people that their convictions may be paid for by their loved ones," she told the commission.
But Lin said she still hopes to travel to China for the pageant. She said overseas Chinese need to "stand up and speak out."
Canada's government has voiced concern about alleged harassment of Lin's family in China.