(Minghui.org) According to Forbes, Shanghai is now the most expensive city in the world. In contrast to the sixth largest concentration of billionaires who live in this modern, extravagant city, there are also people who get by on 1,000 yuan or nothing each month.
These people aren’t the “low-end population” the authorities in Beijing are trying to drive out of the cities. Many of them are long-term residents of Shanghai who once had decent jobs and an adequate pension after they retired.
Then why are these people not receiving their earned retirement benefit? They are practitioners of Falun Gong, an ancient spiritual and meditation discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese Communist Party since 1999.
For upholding their faith and raising awareness about the persecution, they’ve been arrested and sentenced. They then return home after suffering years of torture in prison, only to find that their pension has been suspended and they have to pay back whatever they were paid while serving time.
While no law in China says that Falun Gong practitioners serving time for their faith aren’t entitled to their income, the local social security office, which is in charge of issuing both workplace pensions and social security retirement insurance, cited two documents issued by the General Office of the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, #44 in 2001 and #315 in 2003, to justify their actions.
When asked why they waited until recently to execute the documents issued in 2001 and 2003, the staff responded that they hadn’t received them back then.
Ms. Pu Yuying, 77, was arrested on May 14, 2008, and later sentenced to three years. On November 4, 2020, she received a letter from the Jing’an District Social Security Office, ordering her to pay back all pension benefits she received between 2008 and 2011. The letter said that she would lose her current pension, medicare, and transportation subsidy if she didn’t clear her “debt.”
Ms. Pu went to the social security office to reason with the staff. Those who spoke to her were very rude and didn’t let her talk. One director said this was a “court and justice bureau decision” but didn’t specify which court or justice bureau they were.
The social security office sent another “bill” to Ms. Pu in early December 2020. When she insisted that she wouldn’t pay it, the authorities suspended her pension beginning December 9.
In March 2021, a residential committee staff member asked Ms. Pu to sign an agreement to pay back whatever she’d received during her three-year prison term, but she refused to comply.
Similar to Ms. Pu’s ordeal, Ms. Shi Yajuan received a letter from the Huangpu District Social Security Office on December 5, 2020, telling her to pay back the pension she received while serving time between April 2007 and March 2010, totaling 139269.6 yuan. Because she refused to repay the funds, the authorities have suspended her 4504.4 yuan monthly pension as of January 2021.
Ms. Shi filed an appeal with the Shanghai Human Resources and Social Security Bureau on February 8, 2021, only to be told that her appeal wouldn’t go anywhere.
In January 2013. Ms. Zhang Xiaoying was sentenced to four years and Ms. Yuan Xiaolan to five years for distributing Falun Gong materials. Since December 2020, the authorities began to withhold two thirds of their pension to pay back the funds they had received during their terms. Now they only receive a little over 1,000 yuan each month, below the minimum living standard in Shanghai.
Mr. Wang Zuoshan served four years in Tilanqiao Prison between May 7, 2008, and May 6, 2012. Since December 2020, the authorities have suspended his pension and ordered him to pay back the 179,000 yuan he received while he was incarcerated.
Ms. Wu Yuqin, 70, was arrested on August 9, 2018, after surveillance cameras recorded her distributing informational materials about Falun Gong. She was sentenced to 1.5 years by the Jing’an District Court. On December 24, 2020, she was informed by the Huangpu District Social Security Office that they would withhold starting her pension starting January 8, 2021.
Ms. Wu and her husband went to the social security office on January 4. The staff member was very rude and refused to accept any of the documents they wanted to submit, including a letter from their lawyer. Ms. Wu is still trying to appeal the decision.
Ms. Guan Longmei served 3.5 years between 2014 and 2017. Since January 2021, her pension has been suspended. After she negotiated with the authorities, the social security office agreed to deduct 600 yuan from her pension each month to pay back her “debt.”
Ms. Liu Wenying, 76, was sentenced to three years in September 2012 and tortured in prison for not giving up her faith. The authorities have withheld her pension since February 2021. She is now appealing the decision.
In addition to the above, four more practitioners in Shanghai have been persecuted financially in recent months.
Ms. Li Meizhen’s pension has been suspended since September 2020.Ms. Cai Yufang pension has been suspended since October 2020.Ms. Tang Liandi was ordered in November 2020 to return the pension funds she received during a previous three-year term.Ms. You Xiuying, 77, has had her pension suspended since November 2020.
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