Elderly Falun Gong Practitioners Targeted for Persecution for Their Faith
(Minghui.org) When the former Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Jiang Zemin launched the persecution of Falun Gong in 1999, he issued an order to “damage Falun Gong practitioners’ reputations, ruin them financially, and destroy them physically.”
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a spiritual practice based on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance. It was made public in 1992 by Mr. Li Hongzhi. Fearing its growing popularity, Jiang started the persecution in 1999.
For more than twenty years, Falun Gong practitioners, regardless of age, have been persecuted for their faith. However, elderly practitioners are disproportionately targeted. There have been many reports of elderly practitioners being arrested, sentenced, beaten, even tortured by police for talking to people about Falun Gong. Some elderly practitioners had their pensions suspended for refusing to renounce their faith.
In some cases, Falun Gong practitioners were forced to pay back pensions that they had collected during their imprisonment because of their faith, even though neither the Labor Law or Social Insurance Law of China stipulate that pensions should be suspended while serving a sentence.
82-Year-Old Woman Dies Hours after Being Arrested
Ms. Guo Zhenxiang from Zhaoyuan City, Shandong Province, was arrested at a bus station in the early morning of January 11, 2019. Her family was notified a few hours later, at 10 a.m., that she had passed away.
The police claimed that Ms. Guo became ill after being taken to the police station and died in a local hospital despite resuscitation attempts. Her body was then taken to Zhaoyuan City Funeral Home without her family's consent.
Ms. Guo had been very healthy during the past few years and she did not exhibit any symptoms when she left home that fateful morning. Her family suspects that her death was related to mistreatment in police custody, as Falun Gong practitioners are routinely tortured in detention.
83-year-old Man Serving Seven Years for His Faith in Critical Condition
Mr. Huang Qingdeng from Leqing City, Zhejiang Province, was arrested at his home on April 17, 2019, along with his wife. He was detained at Leqing City Detention Center for almost a year before being sentenced to seven years in prison on March 12, 2020.
His family received a call from Hangzhou Second Prison in mid-November 2020 and was told that he has been sent to the hospital for resuscitation. The prison staff said that Mr. Huang has been found to have six diseases and he could die at any time. Yet they refused to release him on bail.
85-Year-Old Woman Faces Prosecution for Her Faith
On February 20, 2020, Ms. Chen Lanzhi from Jinan City, Shandong Province, was arrested after she gave a young man a booklet about the CCP's persecution of Falun Gong and its cover-up of the coronavirus outbreak. Police ransacked her home and confiscated her books and other personal items.
Although Ms. Chen was released the same day, Ms. Chen's husband was terrified by the police raid and he fell ill soon after. After being bedridden for a few months, he passed away around September 2020.
Two staff members of the Zhangqiu Procuratorate Office found Ms. Chen and ordered her to go to the Procuratorate Office to sign a document. When she refused to comply, those people called her daughter, who also refused to participate in the persecution of her mother.
Retired College Professor's Pension Suspended for Ten Years
Ms. Tang Xuzhen was an Associate Professor of Anatomical Pathology at Southwest Medical University in Luzhou City, Sichuan Province. She took up Falun Gong in 1996 and credits the practice for curing her naso-pharyngeal cancer and many chronic illnesses.
The Southwest Medical University suspended Ms. Tang’s pension after she was sentenced to 3.5 years in late 2009 for talking to people about Falun Gong. The school officials said they'd reinstate her pension if she wrote a statement to renounce Falun Gong. Ms. Tang had also gone to the local petition office to seek justice but to no avail.
Woman Forced to Repay Pension Collected While Imprisoned for Her Faith
When Ms. Tang Tianmin returned home on October 3, 2019, after serving two and a half years for refusing to give up her faith in Falun Gong, she noticed that her usual monthly pension had not been deposited into her account.
When she inquired about it at the Nanxi Social Security Bureau, she was told that she owed over 60,000 yuan because she was not supposed to get her pension while she was incarcerated. Ms. Tang was wrongfully imprisoned in 2012 and again in 2017, for a total of five-and-a-half years.
Even though neither the Labor Law or Social Insurance Law stipulate that pensions should be suspended while serving a sentence, the local authorities still demanded she pay back the pension. “If you do not return the money, you will be sued. We can sell your apartment or put you in jail,” the Social Security Bureau clerk told Ms. Tang.
Not wanting her mother to be jailed again, Ms. Tang’s daughter borrowed 21,000 yuan to pay back the Social Security Bureau and agreed to have the rest deducted from Ms. Tang's monthly pension until the total amount is paid off, leaving Ms. Tang with only 500 yuan a month to live on.
Elderly Practitioners Arrested while Reading Falun Gong Books Together
In Qishan County, Shanxi Province, Ms. Wang Ruiqin, Ms. Wang Yalan, Ms. Xu Mingxia, Ms. Jiao Binglan, Ms. Cao Luxia, Ms. Wang Huihui, Mr. Zhang Duocai, and Mr. Shao Qihu were studying Falun Gong teachings at Ms. Li Huiqin’s home on July 10, 2019, when more than 30 police officers suddenly broke in and arrested the nine Falun Gong practitioners.
Another practitioner, Ms. Song Hongqi, had stopped by Ms. Li's home earlier to drop off some home-grown fruit but didn’t stay to read. She left before the police came but was arrested on her way home.
Most of the practitioners were around seventy years old. Despite their advanced age, the police took them to a hotel specifically rented to persecute Falun Gong practitioners and interrogated them there for over ten days.
After the interrogation, Ms. Li, Ms. Wang Ruiqin, Mr. Sao, and Mr. Zhang were released on bail. Ms. Zhang was later cleared of any involvement. Ms. Wang Yalan and Ms. Wang Huihui were first taken to Baoji Detention Center and also released on bail later on. Ms. Cao and Ms. Song were taken to the Fufeng County Detention Center. Ms. Cao was soon released due to a health condition and Ms. Song was released a month later. Ms. Xu, Ms. Jiao, and Mr. Shen remain in custody.
Mr. Shen, Ms. Xu, Ms. Jiao, Ms. Wang Yalan, Ms. Wang Huihui, Ms. Wang Ruiqin, Ms. Li, Mr. Shao, and Ms. Cao appeared in the Qishan County Court on August 18, 2020.
In November, the court announced that Ms. Li was fined 5,000 yuan; Ms. Wang Ruiqin, Ms. Cao, and Mr. Shao were each fined 4,000 yuan; and Ms. Wang Huihui was fined 2,000 yuan. The court said their verdicts would be delivered to them shortly.