(Minghui.org) Former teacher Ms. Liu Yurong of Linghai City, Liaoning Province, was sentenced to six years in 2008 for practicing Falun Gong, a meditation system also known as Falun Dafa that has been persecuted in China since July 1999. She was abused in Liaoning Women’s Prison and had a severe stroke as a result. She was released on medical parole in 2013.
Ms. Liu had reached retirement age by the time she was released, but she had no pension to collect. Her local social security bureau said that was because she was fired from her job while she was incarcerated. She had to make a living doing odd jobs such as working as an aide to the elderly.
Ms. Liu visited an elderly fellow practitioner on November 27, 2021, to ask for help to find a temporary job. Police officers hiding nearby to monitor the house arrested her despite her high blood pressure and side effects of the stroke. She was put in criminal detention in Jinzhou City Women’s Detention Center that evening on the grounds that she had been jailed previously.
Linghai is under the administration of Jinzhou City.
Eight other elderly practitioners, the oldest being 84, were also arrested. Six of them, including Ms. Liu Xianglian, Ms. Zhang Suqin, Ms. Zhang Shuyuan, Ms. Kang, Ms. Wang, and Ms. Li Shufang, have been released.
The Taihe District Domestic Security Office in Jinzhou City has been actively participating in the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners for many years. Recently, officials also instructed local police to wait outside certain practitioners’ homes in order to arrest other practitioners—just like Ms. Liu was arrested. Over 10 practitioners have been arrested lately and held in different detention centers. The Linghai Procuratorate and Linghai Court have cooperated with the police to wrongfully convict nearly ten of them.
Zhang Jiuyi (张久义): deputy chief, Taihe Police Department, +86-416-5178820, +86-13940694055Liu Jin (刘晋): director of Beijiao Police Station, +86-416-4685110, +86-13841638786Chen Ruirui (陈睿蕊): director, Jinzhou City Women’s Detention CenterLi Hong ( 李宏): president, Linghai Court, +86-416-8152001
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My name is Liu Yurong. I am 59 years old and reside in Cuiyan Township, Linghai City. During my 26-year teaching career, I devoted all of my energy to the students in the mountain villages. I worked hard and was named as an excellent teacher several times. I was recognized as a good teacher by the school officials, students, and parents.
Becoming an Excellent Teacher
I was born in an impoverished mountain region in the northwestern part of Linghai City. My family was so poor that my three older sisters quit elementary school and started working the land at a young age. But I insisted on continuing my education because I wanted to become a teacher, which is a noble occupation.
I graduated from high school in 1980 but failed to pass the college entrance exam and had to do farm work. Later, the township recruited private teachers and my qualifications met the requirement. I signed up for the exam and took first place in 1984 in the township.
I started teaching at Liujiagou Elementary School, which was about two miles from my home. Because the dirt road was uneven with ditches and river crossings, I had to walk to the school. At that time, the school was in a poor condition. The school consisted of several stone buildings, with crooked gables about to fall down. There were no walls around the campus, or study desks or chairs in the classrooms. The windows were made out of plastic sheets that just sheltered us from the wind.
I was then transferred to the similarly remote Guohuang Elementary School. Although the buildings were a little better, the campus still had no walls and a piece of iron plate from a broken railroad rail was used as the bell. I walked to school every day, leaving home before dawn and coming back at dusk. While I wore a mask and a hat in the freezing cold winter, my face was full of frost when I arrived at the school and my mask was frozen hard. On sunny hot summer days, I started to sweat as soon as I left home and my clothes were soaked when I got to school. My face would be filthy with mud on rainy days.
I worked there for four years and no words can adequately describe the harsh conditions. A girl without strong willpower would not have persevered, but I did.
Then I was transferred back to the school in my village and served as the headteacher for a second grade class until they graduated. In those years, I worked diligently as usual and was responsible for my work. I not only taught the students well in class but also voluntarily tutored those who were behind in my spare time. I spent lots of time at home preparing my teaching materials every day including weekends.
My students ranked among the top one or two in general exams and random tests in the township over the years. All my 30-some students passed the final graduation exams. My students in a new class also improved to the top three in the township. I was thus recognized as an outstanding teacher in the township for several years and became well known in the township.
I was a private teacher for 8 years before I was admitted to Jinzhou No. 1 Normal School in 1992. I went through college while still working as a teacher. I graduated in 1995 and officially became a formal teacher. I was assigned to Central Elementary School and served as headteacher for a fourth grade class.
Not long afterwards, there was an opening for a teacher in Cuiyan Middle School and I was transferred there. The principal asked me to teach the ideological and moral course for students in ten classes from first grade through third grade. I also served as the headteacher of one class. I believe that an excellent teacher must be willing to burn like a candle and provide light and heat to the students. I thus selected teaching as my career. I did the work of two people, but I had no complaints.
Benefiting from Falun Gong
I developed many health problems in the first decade I taught. My hands and feet were swollen and I had bloating and stomach pain. I went to major hospitals in Jinzhou but to no avail.
I started practicing Falun Gong in 1996 and benefited greatly. One week after I started to practice, all my health problems disappeared completely and I really felt the joy of being illness-free. I am immensely grateful to Master Li, the founder of Falun Gong.
Through the practice, I realized that Falun Gong is a very profound system. In addition to healing and fitness, it also teaches people to follow the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance to be good people. Anyone can cultivate and live a normal life. A genuine cultivator would be one of the best and most outstanding people in his or her field.
Falun Gong has guided my cultivation, behavior, and work. As a moral education teacher, I was moved by the profound Falun Gong teachings. I decided to continue improving myself through these teachings.
To learn more about Falun Gong and connect with other practitioners, I bought a computer. This would also help me introduce the practice to other people.
After the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) started to persecute Falun Gong in 1999, I continued to work diligently as a practitioner should always do. Before the 2008 Olympics, however, officials from Linghai Domestic Security Office ransacked my home, arrested me, and took me to a detention center. I was then wrongly sentenced to six years.
I suffered indescribable, inhuman torture in prison and became critically ill many times. On November 8, 2013, I had a serious stroke. Seeing that the prison hospital could not do anything for me, the prison released me on medical parole.
I was taken to the Jinzhou Affiliated Hospital, the largest and best hospital in western Liaoning. There were no good treatment options. They tried to inject me with fluid and failed, so they agreed to let me check out of the hospital three days later.
I stayed with my younger sister. I listened to Master Li’s lectures when I was awake and I did Falun Gong exercises as long as I could move. Because of Falun Gong, my health has gradually improved so that I am able to write this letter today.
I used to live with my mother before I was imprisoned. She became ill due to extreme sorrow over my arrest and died two years later. Our house was then demolished for a reservoir and the demolition compensation money covered my living expenses and hospitalization after my release.
Abused in prison for five and a half years, I suffered tremendous damage to many parts of my body. My left side is still numb, I’ve lost almost all my hair, and most of my teeth are loose, but I do not have the money to see a dentist. Although only in my 50s, I look like I am in my 80s.
I had reached the legal retirement age when I was released from prison. Once I recovered my physical and mental health, I contacted several government departments for my pension, including the local Education Department, Human Resources Bureau, Labor Bureau, and Social Security Bureau. They all said they couldn’t help me.
When I checked with the social security bureau again in 2019, they said only those who’d contributed at least 15 years into their pension accounts are eligible for pension benefits. I told them I’d taught for 26 years. They said that, since I was fired from my job, some of my years of service were wiped out, rendering me 4 years and 8 months short of the 15-year minimum. The only way I could receive pension benefits would be to make up 4 years and 8 months’ contribution.
I am almost 60 and live alone. Very few people would offer me a job because of my poor health. I do not have financial resources and have relied on my relatives to sustain me for years. I can only afford to eat porridge and liquid food, let alone make up the required contribution in order to receive my pension benefits.
As described below, the withholding of my pension has no legal basis.
Document from the Department of Labor and Social Security in Liaoning Province
According to Article 4 of “Notice on Several Opinions for Expanding the Coverage of Basic Endowment Insurance and Increasing Fund Income” from Liaoning Department of Labor and Social Security in 2008 (document number 2008 – 32):
“Persons who have left government agencies, social organizations, enterprises, and institutions without re-employment may apply to participate in the social pooling of basic endowment insurance for urban enterprise employees as freelancers, and make up the basic endowment insurance premiums (serving a sentence or serving a sentence) according to the payment base and proportion of the corresponding period. (During the period of reeducation through labor, the basic endowment insurance premium shall not be paid). The consecutive working years calculated in accordance with the national policies and regulations during the original work period in the government agencies, social organizations, and public institutions shall be regarded as the payment period.”
I am a former teacher and taught for nearly 26 years in remote Cuiyan Town, so I have met this requirement.
Pension Is Protected by Numerous Laws
The Social Insurance Law and Labor Law have ensured my participation in social insurance and entitlement to pension benefits.
The Labor Law was adopted by the National People’s Congress in 1994 and has been revised several times since then. The Social Insurance Law was adopted by the Standing Committee of National People’s Congress in October 2010 and became effective in July 2011. These two laws protected citizens’ benefits on social insurance.
Article 44 of the Chinese Constitution says, “The State applies the system of retirement for workers and staff members of enterprises and institutions and for functionaries of organs of State according to law. The livelihood of retired persons is ensured by the State and society.”
Article 73 of the Labor Law says, “Article 73 Laborers shall, under the following circumstances, enjoy social insurance benefits in accordance with the law:(1) Being retired;...The conditions and standards for laborers to enjoy social insurance benefits shall be stipulated by laws, rules, and regulations. The social insurance money that laborers are entitled to must be paid on schedule and in full.”
Article 16 of the Social Insurance Law specified, “A member of the basic old-age insurance shall receive the basic old-age pension on a monthly basis if the member’s cumulative length of contribution payment is no less than 15 years upon reaching the legal retirement age. If the cumulative length of contribution payment of a member of the basic old-age insurance is less than 14 years when the member reaches the legal retirement age, the member may receive the basic old-age insurance on a monthly basis once the member makes up the contribution payment to what is required for 15 years.”
The Social Security Bureau cited several references including “Reminders on Carrying out Written Investigations on Prisoners' Illegal Receipt of Basic Pensions” (from the Supreme Procuratorate), “Reply letter from the General Office of the Ministry of Labor and Social Security on pension insurance benefits after retirees are sentenced” (from Ministry of Labor and Social Security, document number 2001 – 44), and “Letter of the General Office of the Ministry of Labor and Social Security on Supplementary Explanation to Laoshe Office Letter  No. 44” (from Ministry of Labor and Social Security, document number 2003 – 315). But all these are illegitimate.
For example, according to Document 2001-44, “For retirees sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment or more criminal punishment, their pension will be suspended during the period of imprisonment or reeducation through labor. After the sentence or the reeducation through labor expires, the basic pension can continue to be issued according to the standard before serving the sentence or the reeducation through labor, and they will participate in the basic pension adjustment in the future.”
But there is no such description in the Social Insurance Law. Based on the principles that lower-level law shall not conflict with upper-level law, this policy should be deemed invalid. In addition, it did not follow the recording procedure described in Chapter 5 of the Legislation Law. While detracting from citizens’ rights and increasing government agencies’ power, it has no legal basis or support from administrative regulations.
Article 80 of the Legislation Law revised in 2015 states: “The matters provided for by departmental rules shall be within the scope of enforcing laws or State Council administrative regulations, decisions, or orders. Departmental rules not based on law, State Council administrative regulation, decision or order must not impair the rights of citizens, legal persons or other organizations, or increase the scope of their duties; and must not increase the power of that department or reduce that department's legally-prescribed duties.”
Apparently, this policy contradicts the Legislation Law. In addition, my pension was stopped in August 2020, after the Social Insurance Law went into effect. Therefore, I should receive pension benefits as specified by the law.
A Pension Is a Retiree’s Legal Possession
Pensions come from monthly contributions made by both employees and employers. It is not welfare from the government, it is simply managed by the government. Therefore, a pension is a strictly personal asset and should not be deducted or withheld simply because a retiree is jailed. That is, a pension is not owned by the social security bureau although it is managed by the agency.
Social Security Officials Have Abused Their Power by Acting Against the Social Insurance Law
The social security bureau needs to operate within the scope legally authorized by laws and legal administrative regulations. Deducting or withholding a pension is depriving a citizen of his or her property rights. Even property penalties specified in the Administrative Penalty Law are limited to fines and confiscation of illegal property, not pensions. Therefore, the social security bureau’s suspension of a person’s pension is considered an abuse of power.
Article 89 of the Social Insurance Law states, “When a social insurance agency and its staff commit an offense included in the following list, the social insurance administrative department shall order its rectification. When damage has been done to social insurance funds, an employer or an individual, liability for damage shall be assumed by the person(s) responsible according to law. The principals who bear direct responsibilities and other persons with direct responsibilities shall be sanctioned by law.
(1) Not discharging social insurance statutory functions;...(3) Underpaying or refusing to pay on time social insurance benefit obligations;”
Article 93 of the Social Insurance Law says, “The public officials who abuse their power, neglect their duties, or engage in fraudulent acts for personal gains shall be sanctioned according to law.”
The revised Civil Servant Law that went into effect in June 2019 indicated that civil servants who executed decisions or orders that were obviously wrong should bear corresponding consequences according to the law.
Therefore, the suspension of one’s pension violates the Constitution, the Labor Law, the Social Insurance Law, the Legislation Law, and the Law on Protection of the Rights and Interests of the Elderly.
According to Article 35 of the Constitution, “Citizens of the People’s Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession, and of demonstration.” Article 36 of the Constitution says, “Citizens of the People’s Republic of China enjoy freedom of religious belief.”
Many practitioners were charged with violating Article 300 of Criminal Law, which states that anyone using a cult to undermine law enforcement will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. There is no law in China that criminalizes Falun Gong or labels it a cult. However, the procuratorates and the courts often cite as legal basis the statutory interpretation from the Supreme Court and Supreme Procuratorate which states that anyone who practices Falun Gong will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The Supreme Court and Supreme Procuratorate are not law-making bodies and their interpretation cannot be used as law to convict practitioners.
Several months after former CCP leader Jiang Zemin launched the persecution in July 1999, he called Falun Gong a “cult” during an interview in October 1999. The CCP-controlled news media in China then followed. But such remarks or articles are not legally binding.
The positive effect of Falun Gong, on the other hand, has been well-known to the public. Several large surveys, including one sponsored by Qiao Shi, Former Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress of China, concluded, “Falun Gong has huge benefits to the country and citizens while causing no harm.”
Announcement 50 from the General Administration of Press and Publication issued on March 1, 2011, lifted the ban on the publication of Falun Gong books.
In summary, my practicing Falun Gong is a legal right guaranteed by the Chinese Constitution and my pension is protected by several laws. Please follow the laws and stop harming an innocent woman like me. Withholding my pension will not do any good to me, to you, or our society.