A beauty pageant winner and vocal human rights advocate is calling on Western governments to develop a sufficient response to curtail the Chinese government's organ transplant abuse.
Anastasia Lin, who has used her platform as Miss World Canada to raise awareness about human rights atrocities in China, recently teamed up with an award-winning film director to produce a movie about China's forced organ harvesting from political and religious prisoners.
Lin attended a premier of the film, The Bleeding Edge, on Wednesday evening in Washington, D.C., joining with director Leon Lee to call on the international community to step up its response to a practice that has persisted for years despite increased awareness.
Officials in the United States and Europe have moved to condemn the Chinese regime's illegal organ harvesting, following research tying organ transplants in China to the killing of so-called "prisoners of conscience," those jailed for their religious or political beliefs.
Falun Gong, a minority spiritual group in China, has raised awareness of its claim that the Chinese government is torturing religious minorities and harvesting their organs. A PBS documentary called Hard to Believe spotlighted this claim, which is backed by comprehensive evidence, in 2015.
An investigative report issued by Canadian lawmaker David Kilgour, human rights lawyer David Matas, and journalist Ethan Gutmann in June showed that China has illegally harvested organs from prisoners on a massive scale.
According to estimates from the report, which draws on public data from Chinese hospitals, the Chinese regime performs between 60,000 and 120,000 transplants annually, much higher than the 10,000 per year claimed by the Chinese Communist Party. The unaccounted for transplants, the researchers concluded, come from China's executed prisoners.
"The ultimate conclusion is that the Chinese Communist Party has engaged the State in the mass killings of innocents, primarily practitioners of the spiritually-based set of exercises, Falun Gong, but also Uyghurs, Tibetans, and select House Christians, in order to obtain organs for transplants," the researchers wrote.
The U.S. Congress passed a resolution in June condemning state-sanctioned forced organ harvesting in China, demanding the Chinese government immediately end the practice for prisoners of conscience, and directing the State Department to further analyze the issue. The European Parliament passed a similar declaration in July, condemning China's organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience and calling on the EU's political entity to do something about it.
Lin told the Washington Free Beacon on Wednesday that the "systematic killing" demands a fiercer response from the international community as well as an explanation from China.
"We're watching this happen. It's not that people don't know about it," Lin told the audience after the film screening. "A lot of governments know about it; the media has written enough reports about it. But why isn't there enough action?"
The film, unveiled at a premier hosted by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, is a fictional thriller based on actual testimony from Chinese individuals about a Falun Gong practitioner who is imprisoned and later killed so her heart can be harvested. The film catalogues the physical and emotional torture—including rape, beating, and force feeding—of Chinese political prisoners, drawing on accounts relayed to Lin by actual victims.
"I interviewed numerous victims," Lin, who stars in the film, told the audience. "They shared with me their experience, not just what the torture was like but also the mental pressure, how their physicality was when they were being shocked by electronic batons and their fingers had been punctured [inaudible]. Those are real things that are happening."
Lee, who first learned about the issue while making his 2014 film Human Harvest, hopes his latest venture will draw more attention to the atrocities.
"In the last decade or so, hundreds of thousands of prisoners of conscience, including Falun Gong practitioners, House Christians, Tibetans, Uyghurs, have been harvested—heart, liver, kidney, cornea—and killed," Lee told the Free Beacon. "The crime is still going on, despite all the efforts to stop it. I think the film will really help bring awareness to the issue and hopefully end the crime as soon as possible."
Lin, who grew up in China but now lives in Canada, is an actress and two-time winner of Miss World Canada, using her platforms to raise awareness about human rights issues in China. She received international media attention in 2015 when Chinese officials denied her a visa and declared her unwelcome when she tried to represent Canada at the Miss World pageant in China.
Lin was nearly barred from attending the Bleeding Edge premier Wednesday night by officials at the Miss World Organization, but at the last minute was allowed to attend. Lin and her family members still in China have been subject to intimidation and pressure for her work on human rights issues.
Human rights abuses in China have grown increasingly severe under the leadership of Xi Jinping, even as the United States and European nations have sought to cooperate with China. An annual assessment by U.S. lawmakers and government officials recently said that China's violations of international human rights standards demand a stronger response and need to play a bigger role in U.S. foreign policy.