B2 High-Intermediate Other 395 Folder Collection
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My name is Anastasia Lin.
I am a Canadian actress.
I’ve taken on roles in film and television shows that depict human rights abuses in China.
And to prepare, I speak with those who have suffered including Falun Gong practitioners.
These are not criminals
these are people who believe in truthfulness
compassion and tolerance.
I wanted to speak for those in China who are beaten, burned, electrocuted
for holding their beliefs
People in prison who eat rotten food with blistered fingers.
because they dare have conviction.
I campaigned for the title Miss World Canada on a human rights platform.
Recent events leave me worried for my family who are still in China.
I had to choose between silence and my hope for a better China.
And then I remember, silence helps no one. Silence feeds terror.
I think if every Chinese can speak up and let the Chinese government know that when they do such things
they will have a cost.
So, yes. I am a beauty queen.
I’m probably the only beauty queen in history who has ever been declared persona non grata by any country.
I was born in China.
When I was there I believed everything I was taught.
And then I moved to Canada, and I was given the rarest gift
a chance to reconstruct my outlook on the world.
I wanted to find out what had been hidden from me
so I searched for all the terms that was deemed “sensitive terms” by our school teachers in China.
I watched videos of the brutal persecution of Tiananmen massacre in 1989.
This is an event that has been almost erased from the memories of Chinese citizens’ mind.
I also learned about the persecution of Falun Gong.
In the late 1990s, seventy to one hundred million Chinese people
were practicing this peaceful meditation practice of the Buddhist school.
Rooted in the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance
it offered an alternative to communist atheist dogma and of money worship.
And initially, it was supported by the government as a way to improve health.
Unfortunately, Falun Gong’s popularity and independence from state control
came to be viewed as a threat by the ruling party
challenging its absolute control over the hearts and minds of Chinese citizens.
As anyone whose familiar with modern Chinese history would know
that the party tolerates no ideological competition, however benign.
And so in 1999
the communist party launched a systematic and sustained persecution
that permeates every level of society
that is aimed to eradicate this group.
In a recent report, Freedom House wrote that hundreds of thousands
of Falun Gong practitioners have been detained without trial
making them the largest group of prisoners of conscience in China, if not the world.
The party have officially sanctioned the use of torture to force these people to renounce their beliefs
resulting in a huge number being killed in custody.
A far-reaching campaign of hatred, propaganda and misinformation
was used to vilify and dehumanize Falun Gong practitioners.
After learning all this
I realized that I’d been lied to all my life.
Under the influence of China’s state-run media and education system
I was made to feel hate and contempt toward my country’s true heroes
these people who were willing to risk their lives for higher principles.
Worse still, I was made to participate in the indoctrination of others.
As a student leader in China
my role was to organize my classmates to watch hatred propaganda videos.
The Chinese Communist Party tries to make all Chinese complicit of its crimes.
Learning that you have been deceived for so long is such a profound indignity.
Perhaps that is why so many Chinese people continue to struggle
to accept the truth even after they leave China.
It is a profound embarrassment to learn that your whole belief system was based on lies.
And at once I came to understand this
I wanted to find a way to contradict it.
A way to not only defy it, but to also speak up for the Chinese
brave Chinese citizens who have been vilified for their heroism.
And eventually, I chose acting as the medium for this effort.
I looked for roles that moved me, that shed light on what is happening in China today.
From official censorship to corruption that led to shoddy school buildings
that crushed thousands of children during the Sichuan earthquake.
Some people believe that I have damaged my career by taking these roles.
Many Chinese actors who were offered parts in these productions backed out
over fears of reprisal from the Chinese Communist Party.
My most recent film, The Bleeding Edge
I depicted a woman who refused to renounce her belief
and as a result she was killed in custody and her organs sold for profit.
As harrowing as this sounds, this is what happened to thousands of Chinese prisoners of conscience.
Consider this: China performs far in excess of 10,000 organ transplants per year.
Yet there is virtually no voluntary organ donation.
Hospitals promise that they can obtain a kidney, a liver, a heart within in a matter of weeks.
Authorities claim that these organs come from death row inmates
people who are convicted of capital crimes.
But there aren’t nearly enough death row inmates to supply
such a large number of organ transplants.
Noting this disparity, researchers tried to find the true source of the organ.
They have concluded that tens of thousands of innocent Falun Gong practitioners
as well as a number of Uyghurs, Tibetans, and house Christians
have been killed so their organs can be sold to the lucrative transplant industry in China.
Learning this was a humbling experience.
I came to feel that my role is to be these victims’ voice
that people who have been disenfranchised, suffocated by state power.
So I decided to run for Miss World competition
whose motto is “beauty with a purpose.”
And to my greatest surprise, I was crowned Miss World Canada last May.
My determination and resolve was immediately tested.
My father, who still lives in China, was threatened by the state security agents.
They tried to use him to pressure me to abandon my human rights concern.
It nearly worked. I almost gave up.
But then I remembered this
if I give in to fear there is no way I will ever find out
what could have happened if I had done the right thing.
So I continue speaking out, and as a result I was honorably
declared persona non grata by Chinese government
and barred from entering Miss World final contest in China last December.
My experience is not a unique experience.
Chinese people, all around the world
continue to feel the long, cold, iron arms of the Communist Party.
The Party have specialized agencies working to ensure the Chinese people living abroad
continue to adhere to the “correct” political view.
If people step out of line, we risk endangering our families back home.
And not just Chinese people who face this pressure.
Western journalists
academics who bravely dares to report about Chinese issue critically and honestly
they will be denied visa to enter China.
And, as anyone who is familiar with the movie business these days
some Hollywood studios are cow-towing to China
trading artistic integrity for market access.
We in the West have failed to impose real costs on
human rights abuses by the Chinese Communist Party.
China's rulers have learned that no matter how extreme its human rights abuses
they will face no cost
political or economic.
We have taught the Communist regime that they can
abuse, imprison, and kill their own citizens with impunity.
I want to end by showing you one of the hardest scene for me to film
in the movie The Bleeding Edge.
Let’s take a look.
This was very hard for me to deliver.
After all my character had been through
myself, my real self, loathed these men who tortured me.
But the story was written based on true victims' testimony
many of them forgave their torturers.
This spirit of compassion is what the dictators are really afraid of.
These victims are peaceful, they are not moved by hatred.
No matter how much violence is inflicted on them
they do not let themselves be corrupted.
And this is my hope for the future of China.
There are still so many people there who dared to risk
their lives to speak up for their fellow countrymen suffering.
Let us do our part to be worthy of their sacrifice, and their courage.
You don’t need to be an actor to put yourself in these people’s shoes.
You don’t need to be an actor to share their stories.
But if you can take action, we would be so very grateful.
Thank you very much.
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395 Folder Collection
Amelia Lai published on September 9, 2016
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