(Minghui.org) Having served two labor camp terms and two prison terms for a total of 14 years, 60-year-old Ms. Li Yufen is now facing another form of persecution for her faith in Falun Gong – the deprivation of her pension.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a spiritual discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.
Ms. Li from Chifeng City, Inner Mongolia, took up Falun Gong in July 1997. Prior to that, she struggled with uterine cancer as the tumor had reached the size of a duck egg. Although she was still working, she had to take a break after work every day before she could start to cook. A few months into her practice of Falun Gong, the tumor resolved on its own and she has remained healthy ever since.
For telling people about her amazing recovery, Ms. Li was arrested in July 2001. Her home was also ransacked. She was held at the Bahrain Left Banner Detention Center and given two years at Tumuji Women’s Forced Labor Camp two months later.
At the forced labor camp, the guards forced Ms. Li to sleep in their office in order to isolate her from other practitioners and monitor her around the clock. Two guards once beat her all over her body until they became exhausted. After a short break, they beat her again and caused her face to swell and bruise. The swelling took a long time to subside.
After one month of isolation, the guards began to force Ms. Li to work more than ten hours a day without pay, including some very labor-intensive work.
Ms. Li’s persecution dealt a heavy blow to her parents, who constantly worried about her. They passed away one after another, without seeing her for the last time.
Ms. Li was given another two years at Hohhot Women’s Forced Labor Camp following her next arrest on April 6, 2006. Her husband divorced her during her detention. When she was released on January 3, 2008, she found herself with no home to return to and had to stay in a hotel for six months.
Ms. Li was arrested again on October 26, 2009 and sentenced to four years in Hohhot First Women’s Prison.
Her latest arrest took place on July 13, 2014, after she was reported for talking to people about Falun Gong and the persecution. She appeared in the Bairin Left Banner Court on November 25, 2014 and was sentenced to six years in prison. The authorities transferred her to the Hohhot First Women’s Prison in March 2015 without notifying her family.
As soon as she arrived at the prison, the inmates stripped her naked to search her. They snatched her indictment and appeal letter away and never returned them to her.
Ms. Li used to work for the local paint factory. In March 2013, two months before her legal retirement age, she borrowed 67,000 yuan to catch up on her pension contribution in order to meet the minimum contribution required for pension distribution. She began to receive her pension on May 5, 2013.
Starting in November 2015, when she was still serving time, the Bahrain Left Banner Social Security Bureau (SSB) began to suspend her pension. When she was released in July 2020, the SSB also ordered her to return the pension she received during her incarceration, between her arrest in July 2014 and the start date of the suspension in November 2015.
Additionally, the SSB returned the pension contribution she made during her first four-year prison term, claiming that those four years would no longer be counted towards her years of service. They claimed that they would only resume her pension with a new calculation and after she paid back the benefits issued during her imprisonment.
According to the Chinese Constitution, Labor Law, and Social Insurance Law, Ms. Li should never have been ordered to return the pension received during her imprisonment. Article 44 of the Constitution states, “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.”
In addition, Article 72 of the Labor Law states, “The employer and individual laborers shall participate in social insurance in accordance with the law and pay social insurance costs.” Article 73 of the Labor Law says, “The conditions and standards on the eligibility of laborers for social insurance treatment shall be stipulated by laws and regulations. The social insurance funds for laborers shall be paid in due time and in full.”
This shows that pension benefits can only be specified by relevant laws and regulations and that no policies issued by local governments or agencies could overturn them. In addition, the amount of pension should be paid in full with no deduction whatsoever.
Moreover, Article 10 of Social Insurance Law says, “Each employee shall enroll in the basic old-age insurance system; and the employer and the employee shall jointly make basic old-age insurance contributions.” Article 16 clarifies that, “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 fifteen 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 fifteen 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 fifteen years.”
In summary, none of the laws cited above forbids one from receiving a pension as long as retirement requirements are met.
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