On February 28th, MARL and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights organized an event for Schools about “The Right to Rights”, presenting as an example the Falun Gong persecutions in China. We had the opportunity to talk to Miss World Canada Anastasia Lin. She is a practitioner of Falun Gong also known as ‘The Badass Queen’, a Chinese-Canadian actor, model, beauty pageant winner, and Human Rights advocate. She has done presentations for the United States Congressional Committee on China, the National Press Club in D.C, and a United Nations Summit in Geneva, among others.
1. - How was your Childhood in China?
My childhood in China that is zero to 13 years. I grew up in a family that is part of the elite society of the country, not the persecuted groups. My father was a businessperson, he owns a big company in China and my mother used to be a University Professor, she taught International Finance. My mother and I used to live at the University campus where there is a Confucius Academy but no one really studies there because the values are banned.
2. - How was your education during those 13 years in China?
For me I was fortunate to be in touch with traditional Chinese culture, I love traditional Chinese literature and calligraphy. The children of the elite families were usually trained to be the future leaders. Society is structured in a way that if you are better, then you need to work close to the Communist Party.
In school I was a student leader, I was the head of the class. One of my jobs as a leader was to help organize students to watch propaganda videos. I organize a lot of that, and so that is my first 13 years of life. Doing that I felt very proud of it. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with it because everyone was doing it and I was the best at it.
3. - What brought you to activism?
Once in Canada, my mom brought me materials to read about the Falun Gong persecution. I went online to research about these topics and that is when my journey started. I went online and did a lot of independent research about these sensitive topics, I went to the streets to talk with this victims who have been abused in China, and especially a lot of Falun Gong practitioners because they are one of the more active ethnic groups. Falun Gong practitioner is a Han (ethnic group), and they have been discouraged to have social activities. To see social activists and human rights activists in Han Chinese group is very rare and their stories are very intriguing as well, a lot of them have been tortured, yet they are persistently advocating for their freedom. I thought I should just help not just this group but a lot of Chinese groups to tell their stories because their language is not very good and there is a difference in their culture.
4. - How winning Miss World Canada helped your activism?
I ran for Miss World Canada hoping to have a platform and I did, I won because partly I think Canada is a country that respects Human Rights. Running with that platform it resonated with people and the judges in the organization. So I won and right after that my father was threatened in China, because I said I was going to talk about Human Rights, the Chinese Government took it very seriously from a beauty queen. They told us if I continue to speak out my family then would be persecuted.
5. - What happened after you won Miss World Canada?
After the Miss World Canada, I was forced to write for the Washington Post, and to take a congressional hearing in the United States Congress to talk about these things openly. I realized a lot of Chinese people conform, they don’t talk about it, the Communist Party has been using their family as leverage to silence them and I have a platform so why not use it, so that’s when I spoke out.