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82-Year-Old’s Pension Suspended after Being Wrongfully Imprisoned for His Faith

Nov. 18, 2020 |   By a Minghui correspondent in Sichuan Province, China

(Minghui.org) An 82-year-old man’s pension was recently suspended and his local social security bureau did not give a reason. After retiring from China Railway in Chengdu City, Mr. Yang Hejiang, a Suining City, Sichuan Province, resident, had been receiving a monthly pension without any trouble until September 2020, when it suddenly stopped.

Mr. Yang called his former employer and was told that he had to provide the official notice of his prison sentence for upholding his faith in Falun Gong from 12 years ago. Because he no longer has the document, he will have to go to the local court and go through a lengthy process to obtain a copy, which may or may not help his case.

Mr. Yang is a practitioner of Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline that has been persecuted in China since 1999. In 2008, Mr. Yang was arrested and imprisoned for four years because he refused to renounce his faith.

To persecute Falun Gong practitioners financially, the social security bureaus across China have recently started to demand that practitioners pay back whatever pension they received while imprisoned. The bureaus often arbitrarily suspend the practitioners' pension benefits to repay their alleged “debt” (their pension paid out while they were incarcerated).

Mr. Yang had continued to receive pension benefits after he was released in 2012, and the suspension of his pension in September 2020 could well be due to the new social security policy of demanding the return of those benefits paid out during imprisonment. Mr. Yang's local social security bureau, however, refused to confirm the reason.

Past Persecution

Mr. Yang’s work involved mixing and spraying concrete. The amount of dust he inhaled over the years severely damaged his lungs. Before he retired, he and seven of his coworkers had fibrous lungs (silicosis). He also had hypertension and chronic pain in his legs and back.

His seven coworkers all died of silicosis. Mr. Yang's fate changed when he took up Falun Gong in 1996, and all of his ailments disappeared shortly afterwards. He became healthy, agile, and energetic. People who knew him said that he looked much younger than he was.

After the persecution started, the police arrested Mr. Yang and his daughter in July 2008. The officers ransacked their home twice and held them in Yongxing Detention Center. His daughter was later released. Ten months later, the Anju District Court sentenced him to four years in Deyang Men’s Prison.

Nanqiang Town Police Station officers arrested Mr. Yang in May 2017 after someone reported him for posting fliers about Falun Gong. He returned home after being interrogated. Two days later, the police went to his home, forced him to fingerprint paperwork, and detained him arbitrarily for three days.

The police from Nanqiang Town and officials from Dashiqiao Village frequently harassed him and his family. They forced his wife, son, and granddaughter to fingerprint unknown documents.

Two officers from Fuyuanlu Police Station recorded their interrogation of Mr. Yang and his daughter on October 22, 2020.