Canada's outspoken Miss World contestant said she was barred Thursday from entering China to take part in this year's pageant in the southern island province of Hainan.
Chinese-born Anastasia Lin said she was unable to board her connecting flight from Hong Kong after a Chinese official told her by telephone that she would not be granted a visa on arrival.
While she cleared customs in Hong Kong, she was not allowed to board her next flight to Hainan, according to a friend, Caylan Ford, who released a statement from Lin.
"The Chinese government has barred me from the competition for political reasons. They are trying to punish me for my beliefs and prevent me from speaking out about human rights issues," Lin said in the statement, prepared before her departure.
Lin is an outspoken critic of Chinese religious policy and a follower of the Falun Gong meditation practice, which was outlawed by China's ruling Communist Party in 1999.
"If they start to censor beauty pageants — how pathetic is that?" Lin told The Associated Press in Hong Kong.
Lin, who moved to Canada from China when she was 13, told a U.S. congressional hearing in July that tens of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners have been killed so their organs could be harvested and sold for transplants. The 25-year-old actress also plays an imprisoned Falun Gong practitioner in an upcoming Canadian movie, "The Bleeding Edge."
Lin said that after she won the Canadian title, Chinese security agents visited her father who still lives in China in an apparent attempt to intimidate her into silence. Although she hadn't received an invitation letter from organizers, and therefore was unable to obtain a Chinese visa, she said she decided to travel to China anyway in hopes of obtaining a visa on arrival.
Epoch Times, a newspaper that often reports on Falun Gong affairs and Chinese politics, reported on Nov. 21 that Lin’s supporters had launched a petition on change.org calling on Chinese President Xi Jinping to grant Lin access to the competition. The petition has not yet obtained its goal of 2,500 signatures.
Al Jazeera and wire services