Anastasia Lin, the reigning Miss World Canada and human rights activist, is calling for the immediate release of a Canadian citizen who was imprisoned and brutalized in China for her spiritual beliefs.
At a meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on June 19, Lin described the case of Sun Qian, a Chinese-Canadian businesswoman detained by Chinese authorities in February for practicing the spiritual discipline Falun Gong.
Lin called on the council to help end the persecution of Falun Gong by the Chinese regime and to investigate the killing of prisoners of conscience for their organs, which she described as “crimes against humanity.”
“Chinese victims want to know: How could the U.N. have elected China to this human rights council?” she said.
The Chinese delegation attempted to block her speech by calling a point of order, but their objection came too late, said an upbeat Lin over the telephone.
“At the end of the speech, they realized how serious my speech was,” Lin said. “They started to smack the table to catch the attention of the president.”
In their official response, the Chinese delegation slandered the practice of Falun Gong, and made “some ridiculous statements that they’re ‘helping’ people through extrajudicial imprisonment and torture,” Lin added.
Combining a moral philosophy with slow-moving exercises, Falun Gong, or Falun Dafa, spread widely in the 1990s, reaching an estimated 70 million to 100 million adherents by 1999, according to state and practitioner estimates. Communist Party chief Jiang Zemin, who felt threatened by Falun Gong’s popularity, launched a persecution campaign to eradicate the practice in July 1999.
According to a recent Freedom House report, Falun Gong practitioners are routinely arrested, tortured, and exploited for free labor. Practitioners are even murdered for their organs to fuel the Chinese regime’s lucrative organ transplantation industry.
The Chinese delegation’s response to Lin’s testimony is “shocking but not surprising,” Benedict Rogers, the East Asia team leader of the nonprofit Christian organization Christian Solidarity Worldwide, wrote in an email. “The language China has used about Falun Gong is fairly typical but absolutely wrong and completely unacceptable.”
He added, “For some time now, China has taken an aggressive stance against its critics on human rights within the U.N., not only in regard to the persecution of Falun Gong but also on human rights violations faced by Christians, Uyghurs, Tibetans, human rights lawyers, and political dissidents.”
“I hope other member states in the U.N. will use their positions to speak up for Sun Qian, defend human rights in China, and counter China’s attempts to silence voices such as Anastasia Lin’s,” Rogers concluded.
Sun Qian, the Canadian citizen whose plight Lin is highlighting, is just one of hundreds of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners who have been arbitrarily detained for their spiritual beliefs.
Born in China, Sun, 51, became a Canadian citizen in 2007. She started practicing Falun Gong in 2014, according to Minghui.org, a clearinghouse for information on the practice and the persecution.
Sun, the vice president of Beijing Leadman Biochemistry, traveled regularly between Vancouver and Beijing for work. While Sun was in her Beijing home on Feb. 19, more than 20 plainclothes security agents suddenly barged in, ransacked her home, and took her away.
Sun was imprisoned at the Beijing First Detention Center’s 414 Prison Room, a facility notorious for its brutal treatment of detainees.
When Sun’s lawyer visited her on May 27, he noticed visible bruises and cuts on her wrists from the handcuffs. After the visit, she was pushed to the ground by four male guards and sprayed in the face with a pungent chemical, according to Sun’s sister, Sun Zan.
A number of high-level Canadian officials have since appealed for Sun Qian’s release, including Conservative members of Parliament Peter Kent and Michael Cooper, former Liberal Justice Minister Irwin Cotler, and Green Party leader Elizabeth May.
“The notion that practicing Falun Dafa, which is a nonviolent spiritual practice, should put someone in the crosshairs of the authorities in the People’s Republic of China remains a deep concern to every Canadian concerned about human rights,” May said during a May 9 press conference.
Lin first learned of Sun’s story when she received a handwritten letter from Sun’s 78-year-old mother on April 28.
“When our families back home are threatened by the Communist Party, it’s a very vulnerable feeling. There is nothing one can really do but to publicize the case and hope that media attention will add an extra layer of protection” for those in China, Lin told The Epoch Times in an email.
Lin is familiar with having family members experience intimidation by the Chinese regime. Security officers regularly harassed Lin’s father, who lives in China, because of her human rights advocacy work.
The Chinese authorities also blocked Lin from entering the country for the 2015 Miss World competition in southern China, effectively ending her participation in that year’s contest.
The Miss World organizers allowed Lin to represent Canada in 2016 when the beauty pageant was held in Washington, but they barred her from speaking to the media in the weeks leading up to the competition.
Lin recently launched a Change.org petition drive calling for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to publicly demand that the Chinese regime release Sun, which is likely to be Lin’s last campaign as Miss World Canada before the 2017 pageant is held next month.
“I would like to use this final opportunity to help this Canadian citizen, who’s been wrongfully imprisoned in China,” Lin said in the petition video. “I hope all my fellow Canadians and all the kind people around the world will sign this petition.”
By Irene Luo. Larry Ong contributed to this article.