by WorldTribune Staff, July 31, 2018
Anastasia Lin, a former Miss World Canada who was born in China, said her family is continually threatened and harassed by Chinese authorities due to Lin’s lack of restrain in speaking frankly about China’s human rights record.
Lin said her family members are often visited by police, their phones are monitored, their passports have been revoked and they are threatened with persecution akin to what occurred during the Cultural Revolution, according to a report by Business Insider.
In 2015, Lin won the Miss World Canada title and began speaking out on China’s human rights issued. Beijing deemed Lin “persona non grata,” which effectively banned her from China.
“But more problematic than Lin’s ability to enter China, is the difficulty her family have had trying to leave, which is being used as leverage to pressure the Chinese-Canadian actress and activist,” the Business Insider report said.
While in Australia earlier this year, Lin told Business Insider: “The day before I left, my mother told me that the police went into my grandparents home and took away their visa, their Hong Kong visa. These are 70 year-olds, and they took it away. They intercepted my uncle in the airport on his way to Macau, to Hong Kong.”
Lin continued: “My grandmother told me … they took away the Hong Kong visa and they said very explicitly that it was because of my activities overseas and influence. Since then, my grandparents have been getting routine police visits.”
Lin said her great-grandfather was executed in public during the Cultural Revolution “to warn the rest,” and the fear from that time has returned for her grandparents.
“Later on my grandmother told me that the visits sometimes are with fruit and flowers but it was for the purpose of persuading them to persuade me to do less, to not do anything, and to convince me to be on the opposite side,” she said.
Lin said that, within weeks of winning Miss World Canada, security agents had warned her father that Lin “cannot talk” about Chinese human-rights issues.
“My father sent me text message saying that they have contacted him telling him that if I continue to speak up, my family would be persecuted like in the Cultural Revolution. My father’s generation grew up in the middle of Cultural Revolution, so for him it’s the biggest threat you can make. It means you die, you get publicly persecuted,” Lin said, adding that her father “begged” her for a way for the family to survive in China.
Lin said it’s been a long time since she spoke to her father because their calls are monitored, but she learned recently his passport was rejected for renewal.
“My grandpa [is] like, ‘Well why don’t you just give up, then you can come back?’ ” Lin said. “They think it’s that easy because the Chinese Communist Party promised them that if I don’t speak up, I will get to go back, but I know that’s not the case. I know usually if you don’t speak up you don’t have any leverage. They will just kill your voice completely.”
Lin is just one of many Chinese expats and exiles whose mainland relatives are used as leverage to try and control China’s reputation abroad, Business Insider reported.
“Family members of five Radio Free Asia journalists, including two U.S. citizens, were recently detained in an attempt to stop their reporting on human-rights abuses against Uighurs in the Xinjiang region,” the report said.
One of those journalists, Gulchehra Hoja, had more than 20 relatives disappear earlier this year, all in one day.
“When I heard my brother was detained, I [initially] chose not to speak up because my mother asked me, ‘Please I already lost you, I don’t want to lose my son too,” Hoja told a congressional hearing last week. “We don’t want to put them in further danger because of our acts or any word against China.”
“My family haven’t been able to be reunited in 17 years,” Hoja added.