Anastasia Lin, the
winner of Miss World Canada, says that she has been denied the right to
compete in this year's Miss World competition because she has spoken out
about Chinese human rights abuses.
The 25-year-old Chinese-born
actress did not receive an invitation letter from the Chinese government
that would allow her to take part in the Miss World competition this
December in Sanya, China.
Without the letter Lin is unable to
apply for a visa, and because the opening ceremony is on 23 November,
the opportunity to compete is fading fast. The deadline to receive the
letter came and went on Friday.
"Miss World's official line is
that if I don't make it to the opening ceremony, I probably can't enter
this year. If I'm a few days late it might be OK, but the window is
closing. At this point I don't want to give up," Lin told the BBC.
Other contestants received their letters at the end of October.
Since winning the crown in May, Lin was praised by
many for her outspoken opposition to China's record of human rights
violations. She has particularly focused on defending Falun Gong, a
spiritual group that the Chinese government regards as a cult.
Chinese law allows for the arrest of anyone suspected of supporting religious movements that aren't approved by the state.
moved from China to Canada in 2003. Her interest in human rights began
when she heard the stories of other Chinese citizens who said they were
targeted by the government.
has since performed in films about the abuse of Falun Gong members and
spoken about the subject to a US Congressional committee in July.
Ike Lalji, chief executive of Miss World Canada, has said that Canada won't send a runner-up to China if Lin is unable to attend as it would be too late since training starts on Saturday
says that she has spoken to former Chinese Miss World contestants who
agree with her stance on China's human rights policies, but didn't want
to speak out for fear of risking their own ability to get a visa.
"I'm not speaking without fear, as I've seen the repercussions," Lin says.
After she won the competition earlier this year,
Lin's father was contacted by Chinese security forces. They threatened
that there would be consequences if Lin continued to speak out. As her
father still lives in China, Lin is concerned.
scared. He doesn't really dare to talk to me as he worries his phone is
tapped. He doesn't speak his mind anymore."
However, she wants to
use her position with Miss World to highlight the issue and defend the
Chinese people's right to free speech.
"I'm alone and don't even
have any family around me, so it's very difficult. Miss World is an
international organisation, and if organisations like this don't speak
up against the bullying of their own contestants it will continue. China
knows it works and they'll just use it again and again until someone
stands up to them."
Regardless of whether Lin gains the right to
compete or not, she has said that she will use her position to speak out
for human rights. After failing to receive papers on Friday, she is
considering a petition to protest against the decision.
able to go to China, I want the people to see me. They already know
about me and my story as they can go around the firewall. I want them to
see I've been true to my conscience, and that they can do it too."
BBC approached Miss World Canada and the Chinese Consulates in Toronto
and Ottawa for a comment but did not receive a response.