Organizers of the Miss World beauty pageant currently taking place in Washington D.C. lifted a reported gag order on Anastasia Lin, who is representing Canada in this year’s competition and is also an outspoken critic of China. Lin, who was born in China but immigrated to Canada at 13, is a practitioner of Falun Gong, a form of meditation outlawed in China, and has been vocal about denouncing alleged human rights abuses perpetrated by the Chinese government.
Lin’s outspokenness cost her a chance to compete in last year’s pageant, which was held in China. This year, she was said to have been silenced by pageant officials, apparently under pressure from the Chinese government. They reportedly told Lin that if she spoke to the media about advocacy issues, including the shadowy transplant programs that she has accused the Chinese government of supplying with organs from murdered Falon Gong practitioners, she’d be disqualified from the competition. China has long maintained organ donations in the country are voluntary.
But on Wednesday night, pageant organizers apparently backtracked and gave Lin the nod to speak with reporters, ending a standoff that brought with it a wave of bad publicity. Lin sat down The Associated Press for an interview and talked with The New York Times by phone.
“Everybody is tied economically with China. China’s soft power is so huge that no one really dares to speak up,” the 26-year-old beauty queen told the AP. “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.
Fang Hong, a spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy, dismissed Lin’s claims as “sheer fabrications of the Falun Gong cult,” the AP reported.
Lin declined to say whether she’d been officially silenced by the pageant, but told the Times, “To their credit, they did give me this platform, and I’m able to speak freely now,” she said. The finals of the pageant, which Lin also expressed gratitude for being allowed to compete in, is set to air on television Sunday night. The beauty pageant is only half of the controversy swirling around Lin — she also stars in a controversial film, which Lin, after reportedly being denied from viewing, was allowed to screen at a showing on Wednesday night.