Retiree’s Pension Suspended Due to Her Faith, Reinstated after Lawful Appeal
(Minghui.org) An elderly woman, incarcerated for nine and a half years for her belief, learned that her pension was taken away based on the trumped up charges against her and crimes she never committed.
She appealed to different government agencies to tell them why the persecution of Falun Gong was wrong. Four months later, her former employer told her that the authorities wanted to resolve the problem and that her pension was reinstated.
Ms. Zhao Yulan, 77, from Fushun City had retired from the Bureau of Mines. She was imprisoned for five years in 2003 and four and half years in 2012 because of her faith in Falun Gong, a mind and body practice that has been persecuted over the past 19 years. Her son sold their house and died while she was incarcerated, leaving her all alone when she was released in September 2016.
Ms. Zhao received a call in November 2017 from the Bureau of Mines, telling her that her pension would be suspended for four and a half years because of the prison time she served.
Social Security Fund rules stipulate that one cannot receive a pension while imprisoned. She told her employer that telling people about the persecution of her belief was her right to freedom of speech and that the prison sentence was a violation of her rights. She said that her pension should not be suspended because of her faith.
Ms. Zhao went on a mission to tell relevant government offices about the persecution and why it was unconstitutional to suspend her pension based on the sentencing that should not have happened in the first place. She mailed out many appeal letters. On March 6, 2018, an officer from the Bureau of Mines contacted Ms. Zhao and asked her to stop sending them, that his superiors had ordered him to take care of her problem and start paying her monthly pension of 1,600 yuan.
Ms. Zhao’s Letter
My name is Zhao Yulan and I was born in Shandong Province in 1941. I retired from Fushun City Bureau of Mines. Because of my belief in Falun Gong, the Dongzhou District Court judges sentenced me to five years in prison on June 27, 2003. My family was never notified of the trial or my sentence, and I wasn’t allowed to speak up for myself the entire time. The trial was a sham.
Again, on July 26, 2016, the Dongzhou District Court judges sentenced me to four and half years without notifying my family.
For the nine and a half years I was imprisoned, and my son lived alone. It pained him each time he visited me in prison and saw how emaciated I was because of the torture. His kidney problems worsened and he was forced to sell our house to pay for his treatment. He eventually died, in June 2016, at the age of 47.
When I was released from Liaoning Province Woman’s Prison on September 25, 2016, I was alone, without a home to go back to. In November 2017 a Bureau of Mines retirement officer called me and said that, according to the rules of the Social Security Fund, “retirees’ pensions should be suspended during his/her time of imprisonment.” Because the bureau had paid me my pension while I was imprisoned, they were going to suspend it for the next four and a half years and then resume paying it.
I went to the bureau and told the superior why I practiced Falun Gong. Most of my coworkers knew that I used to have severe vertigo, tracheitis, arthritis, and hemorrhoids. I was miserable and thought I would be better off dead than alive.
A coworker gave me a copy of Zhuan Falun, the main teachings of Falun Gong, in 1997 and told me that it would clear up all my doubts. I later became a practitioner and, gradually, all my illnesses disappeared.
Following its principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance, I became virtuous, considerate, and selfless. I committed no crime by doing that and the sentences imposed on me were merely a result of the persecution.
Article 36 of the Constitution says that “citizens of China enjoy freedom of religious belief. No state organ, social group or individual may compel citizens to believe or not to believe in any religion; nor may they discriminate against citizens who have or have no belief in any religion.”
It is therefore every citizen’s right to believe or not believe in anything he or she chooses. The laws punish criminal acts—thoughts alone do not constitute a crime. Faith is in one’s thoughts and one shouldn’t be unjustly treated for having faith or promoting it. That would go against our constitutional rights to belief and freedom of speech.
Practicing Falun Gong and telling people what has happened in the persecution are my legal rights as a citizen. I violated no law, so, based on a deliberate false accusation, my sentence was illegal. My pension should have nothing to do with my faith.
I do not own a house anymore and am too old to work at the age of 76. Suspending my pension would be a death sentence for me. Please let your superior know about my situation.
The social security pension comes from the employees’ retirement fund. The retirement fund comes from the surplus value created by the employees when they work for a company.
Our country has a low-wage allocation policy, which means that the value of the employees' labor mostly goes to the government in the form of taxes. The government, in turn, takes care of the employees’ pensions, medical care, housing, and other welfare needs after they retire.
Since that welfare for the employees comes from the surplus value they create while they work, they are the rewards of the employees’ labor and not charity from the government or the company.
The workers are the creditors and the companies the debtors. As long as the retirees are still alive, the company must pay their pensions. This is a financial contract, a debt contract, not an administrative relationship and definitely not almsgiving.
After the economic reforms, retirement funds became social security pensions. The country passed the debt the company owed to the employee to the social security fund. Consequently, retirees are the creditors and the social security fund is the debtor. The social security fund cannot single-handedly decide to suspend the retiree’s pension while he or she is imprisoned. That is illegal, and the debtor is violating the creditor’s right to his or her pension. The financial contract between the retiree and the social security fund still holds even if the retiree is in prison. Those in charge of the social security fund have no the right to suspend my pension.
Social Security is funded by three entities: the government, the companies, and employees. The government budgets monies to the fund from the taxes paid by the companies, which is part of the value of the employees' labor before they retire. That means it is remuneration for the retirees' labor. The company’s payments are the premiums paid to the social security fund to ensure the employees’ retirement. The premium comes from the work the employees do for the company. The employees' payments are the premiums paid to secure the pension after the employees retire.
The relationship between the social security fund and the retirees is like an insurance company and its policyholders or a debtor and its creditors. Being a debtor, the social security fund cannot arbitrarily decide the circumstances under which the pensions are suspended.
Article 44 of the Constitution says: “The state applies the system of retirement for workers and staff of enterprises and institutions and for functionaries of organs of state according to law. The livelihood of retired personnel is ensured by the state and society.”
Article 2 in Chapter 1 of China’s Social Insurance Law states: “The State shall establish a social insurance system consisting of a basic old-age insurance, basic medical insurance, work injury insurance, unemployment insurance, and maternity insurance to guarantee citizens’ rights to receive material assistance from the State and society according to law upon old age, sickness, work injury, unemployment, or pregnancy.”
Article 20 in Chapter 3 of the Law on Protection of the Rights and Interests of the Elderly says: “The State establishes an old-age insurance system to ensure the basic needs in the life of the elderly.”
Being able to enjoy retirement is our constitutional right and the logical conclusion to the premise “to each according to his contribution.” It cannot be taken away by any individual or organization. The social security fund suspending my pension violates the Constitution, the Social Insurance Law, and the Law on Protection of the Rights and Interests of the Elderly. It’s a deprivation of my right to benefit from my contribution to the labor force.
Article 5, item 3, of the Constitution says, “No laws or administrative or local rules or regulations may contravene the Constitution.” Any law that contradicts the Constitution is illegal and should be nullified. The social security fund’s rule to suspend a person's pension during his or her imprisonment contradicts Article 44 of the Constitution and therefore should be abolished.
Zhao YulanDecember 15, 2017