Yunnan Man Sues Social Security Bureau for Withholding His Pension During Imprisonment for His Faith
(Minghui.org) In the past few years, many Falun Gong practitioners imprisoned for their faith in China have also had their pensions suspended. Some were ordered to pay back the funds they had received during their imprisonment. In other cases, the social security bureau would withhold their pensions until their balances were cleared.
Some practitioners filed lawsuits against their local social security bureaus for the financial persecution. Even though some judges ruled in favor of the practitioners, some local security bureaus still refused to return the withheld funds.
One such case happened to Mr. Wen Chunfu, a 59-year-old retired geological researcher in Kunming City, Yunnan Province, who recently filed a lawsuit against his local social security bureau.
Arrest and Sentence
Mr. Wen and another Falun Gong practitioner, Ms. Luo Baixiu, were arrested on September 4, 2015 for distributing information about Falun Gong, a spiritual and meditation discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.
They were indicted in January, tried in March, and sentenced in May 2016. Mr. Wen was given four years in prison and fined 5,000 yuan. Ms. Luo was sentenced to three and a half years and fined 3,000 yuan.
Both practitioners filed appeals, only to be rejected. Mr. Wen was transferred to Yunnan No. 1 Prison and Ms. Luo to Yunnan No. 2 Prison on August 25, 2016.
Social Security Bureau Withheld Mr. Wen’s Pension
The Yunnan Provincial Social Security Bureau paid Mr. Wen’s pension from October 2015 to May 2017, totalling 75,347.41 yuan. Then the payments stopped.
The bureau later filed a lawsuit in July 2018, demanding that Mr. Wen return the 75,347.41 yuan in pension that he had received.
The Guandu District Court heard the case inside the prison on August 1, 2018.
Mr. Wen argued that no law in China stipulates that an imprisoned person forfeits his or her pension benefits. He added that the persecution of Falun Gong has no legal basis and that he should not have been imprisoned in the first place.
The court issued its decision on August 21, ordering Mr. Wen to pay the case processing fee of 1,684 yuan and return his pension of 67,121.08 yuan to the Yunnan Provincial Social Security Bureau.
Winning the Appeal
Mr. Wen filed an appeal with Kunming Municipal Intermediate Court. The Intermediate Court sent staff to the prison to talk to Mr. Wen, but it didn’t hold a hearing.
While Mr. Wen was still awaiting the ruling from the intermediate court, the Yunnan Provincial Social Security Bureau issued a notice on April 25, 2019, demanding Mr. Wen return the pension.
Mr. Wen received the decision from the intermediate court on May 22, 2019, which overturned the first instance court’s decision and dismissed the lawsuit filed by the Yunnan Provincial Social Security Bureau against Mr. Wen.
Filing a Lawsuit Against the Social Security Bureau
Despite the intermediate court’s ruling in favor of Mr. Wen, the Yunnan Provincial Social Security Bureau continued to withhold Mr. Wen’s pension until he was released on September 4, 2019.
Mr. Wen went to the bureau to ask the agency to return his pension that had been withheld between June 2017 and September 2019. The bureau didn't give him a direct answer but told him to go to court.
Mr. Wen filed a lawsuit against the social security bureau with the Guandu District Court. The court accepted his case and said that it would hold a hearing in two months.
Mr. Wen first stayed in a hotel after he was released. The authorities kept harassing his daughter and urged her to rent an apartment for him. After he moved to the apartment, the police took pictures of it and logged his new address into their system.