The winner of Miss World Canada is speaking out about how her work as a human rights activist is affecting her father back home in China.
After being crowned in May, actress Anastasia Lin – who has been raising awareness of government corruption and religious persecution in China, where she grew up until age 13 – learned her father was receiving threats from authorities.
“He was very vague about what he experienced,” Lin, 25, tells PEOPLE. “He was intimidated and he was not even supposed to tell me. They prefer I self-censor and not talk or say anything. I was really afraid.”
Lin – who first shared her story in the Washington Post – says these threats are reminiscent of the 1966 Cultural Revolution in China when “family members had to stand against each other in order to protect themselves. They were forced to denounce each other,” she says.
“It’s a very traumatizing period in Chinese history,” she adds.
Since speaking out, Lin has received overwhelming support from others with similar stories.
“This is only the tip of the iceberg of a very huge picture,” she says. “It’s not just my father – there are millions of other fathers. A lot of Chinese Canadians and those from other countries as well are under constant scrutiny from this government.”
But despite only being able to communicate with her father through occasional texts and voice messages, the 5’6″ beauty says she will continue to voice her opinion, especially if she is allowed to continue to the Miss World competition in Sanya, China, this December.
“I don’t even know if they’re going to issue me a Visa or not, but if I do have the chance and channel, I will continue to do what I do,” she says. “Plus, it’s been more than a decade since I’ve been there, so I’d be really excited to go back. I miss the people there so much.”