(Minghui.org) Ms. Tao Yonghong of Maoming City, Guangdong Province called the local government’s hotline on January 21, 2022, complaining about the social security office’s order requiring her to return the pension she'd received between June 2011 and June 2014. The Maoming government texted her that same afternoon that her complaint had been accepted and had been assigned to the relevant department.

This is one of the many things Ms. Tao did after the Maoming Social Security Office ordered her to return the pension she received while serving the three-year term for practicing Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999. The social security office threatened to suspend her pension and use the funds to pay back “what she owed them,” if she refused to comply.

Ms. Tao was previously arrested on June 9, 2011, for distributing Falun Gong materials. She was sentenced to three years in Guangdong Province Women’s Prison. She was brutally tortured while in custody and was very weak upon being released. She had non-stop tinnitus in her left ear and pain from the left side of her head down to her left chest and rib. She had significant hearing, vision, and memory loss. She also suffered inflammation of the stomach and intestines and pain in her joints.

On December 28, 2021, nearly eight years after she was released, an official surnamed Huang from the Maoming Social Security Office called her husband and ordered him to have his wife return the pension she had received during her prison term. Huang cited a notice issued by the General Office of the Ministry of Labor and Social Security on March 8, 2001, that no retirees serving time should receive their pension or other benefits.

Ms. Tao phoned Huang on January 7, 2022 and asked who gave her the order. Huang said she was following an order from above. Ms. Tao demanded to see the document. Although Huang agreed for her to review the file, it was on the condition that Ms. Tao provide a copy of her verdict. Ms. Tao explained that all the paperwork was withheld by the prison. It’s not clear whether Huang walked back her promise to show the order she mentioned.

Ms. Tao also said to Huang, “I’m being targeted for my spiritual belief. I didn’t steal anything, kill anyone, or set anything on fire, yet I was sentenced. It’s the government that has violated the law by persecuting good people. Now the current administration has announced that it will investigate cases of corruption going back 30 years. Many of those arrested have participated in the persecution of Falun Gong. I hope you can save yourself a way out and not become an accomplice to the persecution.”

“If you don’t agree with me, you can go ahead and sue me,” Huang responded.

Ms. Tao mailed several complaints to the social security office and several other departments on January 9, 2022. She also visited the social security office on January 10 and talked to the director. She maintained that they didn’t have any legal basis for their demand, and that they violated the law by taking such action.

Ms. Tao continued her legal effort by calling the Maoming government hotline on January 21. A woman answered her call. She explained how the social security office demanded that she return her pension, which is her personal property earned by her own hard work. She said that her pension should be protected, and no agency can arbitrarily suspend it. The social security office was only entrusted to manage the pension and had no jurisdiction to withhold, suspend, or reduce the amount.

Ms. Tao added that she was persecuted for practicing Falun Gong and being a good person, and the perpetrators would be brought to justice one day.

The person who answered the call said she was aware of her situation and would arrange for the relevant department to handle her case. It’s not clear whether the government had taken any action regarding her case at the time of writing.