(Minghui.org) On July 20, 1999, former Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Jiang Zemin launched the persecution of Falun Gong and issued an order to “damage its practitioners’ reputations, ruin them financially, and destroy them physically.”
Falun Gong practitioners were forced to pay heavy fines when they were arrested for going to Beijing to appeal for their rights. Officials from the local 610 Office and brainwashing centers extorted funds from many of their families.
More recently, in the Naxi District of Luzhou City, Sichuan Province, practitioners have been required to return pension payments they received while they were imprisoned to the local social security office.
If they refuse to pay, the Naxi Social Security Bureau will suspend their pensions and deny them retirement benefits until the amount withheld reaches what they are required to pay back.
The following examples illustrate the impact of this type of financial persecution on practitioners.
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.
“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.
Ms. Tang was imprisoned for three years in 2013 and twice held in forced labor camps. She was severely tortured in prison and forced to take unknown substances.
By the time she was released, the once agile and cheerful woman had become a completely different person. Her eyes were dull, her reactions were slow, she kept shaking, and she had difficulty remembering things.
Ms. Yang Taiying, in her 50s, was a clerk at the Naxi Agriculture Machinery Bureau. She was sentenced to four years for her faith in 2014.
When Ms. Yang went to the Social Security Bureau and applied for a pension after she was released from prison (the retirement age for female civil servants is 55), she was told that, because she was fired while she was incarcerated, 30 years of her employment history was wiped out and she was no longer qualified for social security.
Ms. Yang was later told that what could be counted is the retirement insurance her workplace paid for her between 1996 (when the system first started in China) and 2004 (before her workplace was classified as a government agency and not required to pay the insurance anymore). But to be able to qualify for social security benefits, she has to pay eight more years of insurance premiums. Then she would end up with monthly payments of 700 to 800 yuan.
This wasn’t the first time Ms. Yang was persecuted financially for her faith.
Ms. Yang and her older sister Ms. Yang Taizhen went to Beijing three times to appeal for Falun Gong. The first time when they were brought back, she was forced to pay all the expenses of the officials who went to Beijing to retrieve them.
The second time Ms. Yang went to Beijing, she was fined 4,500 yuan, which was deducted from her wages.
The third time, the sisters were sent to a forced labor camp for two years and Ms. Yang was fined over 7,000 yuan.
Officials also extorted over 26,000 yuan from Ms. Yang’s older sister. The local residential committee members, who have the title to her house, threatened to sell it if she didn’t pay the fine.
Ms. Luo Linrong, 67, was a farmer in the Naxi District. She and her family sold their land to the government in exchange for social security benefits.
When she returned home in May 2017 after serving three years in prison for her faith in Falun Gong, however, her pension checks stopped.
She was told that the amount paid to her during the three years she was in prison—totaling over 30,000 yuan—had to be returned.
Ms. Luo’s son borrowed money to pay back the 30,000 yuan for his mother. Even so, Ms. Luo now gets only 1,200 yuan a month instead of 1,500 yuan, because of the adjustment during her imprisonment.
In December 2000, Ms. Luo was detained at a brainwashing center for over two years. During that time, local officials demanded money from her husband. He borrowed 300 yuan but was told that it was not enough. They threatened to put him in jail, too, if he didn’t get more. He was so frightened that he went into hiding.
When Ms. Luo returned home in 2003, her home was uninhabitable, with weeds growing out of the brick walls and floors. Walls had fallen down and the roof had collapsed. Because the house was abandoned, steel bars that were going to be used for repairs were stolen, along with everything of value.
Ms. Liu Yunfang, 72, was sentenced to 18 months in prison for her faith in 2017. When she was released on January 10, 2019, her social security card had a balance of zero.
She was told that the pension paid to her during her incarceration, a total of 14,734 yuan, had to be paid back. The authorities withheld her pension for eight months, from January to August 2019.
A 2,000-yuan fine ordered by the court along with her prison sentence was also deducted from her pension account. She was also denied the pension increase that was instituted while she was in prison.
After Ms. Liu started to practice Falun Gong in 1997, her illnesses disappeared and her temper improved. When the persecution started in 1999, Ms. Liu’s husband supported her practice and stood by her through several arrests and periods of detention. However, 610 Office agents and police officers threatened him repeatedly, and he eventually filed for divorce.
Once Healthy Woman No Longer Herself After Being Abused and Drugged in Prison
Account of Persecution Suffered by Ms. Liu Yunfang from Luzhou City, Sichuan Province