(Minghui.org) A 59-year-old retired kindergarten teacher in Helong City, Jilin Province has had her pension suspended since November 2021. Ms. Sun Qingju was also ordered to pay back the 150,000 yuan of pension benefits she received while serving time for her faith in Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.
In the past few years, many Falun Gong practitioners in China have faced similar financial persecution, as the authorities claimed that they weren’t entitled to any retirement benefits while serving time, despite the fact that no Chinese law has such a stipulation.
For those who were recently sentenced, they are having their pensions suspended. For those who were sentenced earlier or had already served their terms, such as Ms. Sun, the authorities are ordering them to pay back the funds they had received during their terms, sometimes in addition to suspending their current benefits.
Below is Ms. Sun’s own account.
Before I started to practice Falun Gong, I suffered many ailments, including severe insomnia, diabetes and a heart condition. I lost most of my hearing due to otitis media (middle ear infection). Unable to bear the suffering, I made two attempts to take my own life, but didn’t succeed.
After learning Falun Gong, except for my hearing issue, all the other problems went away. I’m grateful to Falun Gong for saving my life.
Sadly, the Chinese communist regime ordered the persecution in 1999, bringing unspeakable pain to countless families, including mine. I was arrested four times and sentenced to prison. I was also held in a detention center, brainwashing center, and psychiatric hospital, where I was tortured, verbally abused and ordered to renounce Falun Gong.
The police clipped my fingers with pencils, causing my fingers to bleed and bruise. They also slapped my face with water bottles and wooded boards, causing my face to swell and my ears to bleed. In other torture sessions, they kicked me with leather boots, and grabbed my hair to hit my head against the wall. They also once forced me to stand for ten days without sleep.
While I was detained, my family also lived in fear. Their lives were also affected in many different ways.
My four arrests happened when my son was still a little boy. When the police interrogated me before I was sentenced in 2013, they held my son, a third grader, as a hostage in an attempt to force me to give in.
When my daughter, who was already an adult, traveled all the way from a southern city to visit me, the guards verbally abused and humiliated her, without allowing her to see me. She later told me that the mental distress caused her to develop several medical conditions, which haven’t recovered eleven years later.
The mental pressure my husband bore was the most severe. After so many times of harassment, he would begin to shake involuntarily whenever someone knocked on the door. He also had a severe heart condition.
At one point, the police also arrested him and detained him for three days. He was beaten and verbally abused. This incident further caused him to develop resentment toward me and Falun Gong.
My husband and I had known each other since we were first graders. We had always been in the same class, from elementary school all the way to high school. After we graduated, we found jobs in the same place. We had a son and a daughter after we got married. It was a really happy family. But because of the persecution, we divorced, twice.
Six years after our first divorce, we re-married. But only a few months later, I was sentenced again. My husband came to the detention center twice, demanding to divorce me for the second time. I had no choice but to agree. He later married another woman and started another family.
After I was released, I continued to face pressure from both my family and society, which caused tremendous difficulty to my daily life.
In November 2021, I received a call from my workplace and was asked to go to the social security bureau to look for director Zhang. I went there in the afternoon. I gave my ID to Zhang as required and asked her what the meeting was about.
She asked me, “Did you bring the verdict?”
I was stunned and told her I didn’t have it.
“How long was your term? When were you sentenced?”
“The term was four years. I can't remember the exact sentencing date.”
She also asked when I retired, before taking out a piece of paper and ordering me to pay them 150,000 yuan.
“Why?” I asked.
She indicated that it was for me to pay back the pension I received during the four-year term. She also said that they found out about me through big data analysis.
I told her that I didn’t commit any crime in practicing Falun Gong and was wronged. Falun Gong is a Buddha school discipline and teaches Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance. It has been spread all over the world and is only persecuted in China. I also said it’s not good for them to persecute me.
As I was talking, the family member who went with me became scared and covered my mouth to stop me from talking.
A few days later, I went to the social security bureau and urged them not to suspend my pension. This time, Zhang’s attitude was very bad and she insisted that I pay the 150,000 yuan.
I told her I couldn’t afford to pay it and they had to allow me to survive.
She indicated that she was just following the law.
I said that there is no such stipulation in the Chinese labor law and I repeated that I didn’t violate the law in practicing Falun Gong.
She threatened to report me to the police and let them arrest me if I kept talking.
Because I had booked a flight ticket for a trip, I left a few days later. When I asked my family to withdraw my pension with my bank card while I was out of town, they found my pension had been suspended already.
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