Retirees Fight for Justice After Alleged Government Scam

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The protestors returned to the courtyard of the Hebei Guesthouse in Beijing this week, and as a result I got a deeper understanding of the details involving their eight-year struggle to reclaim funds allegedly lost in an investment promoted by the Heibei provincial government.

The crowd of 100 chanted, “We earned our money with our blood and sweat!” and, “Give us our money back,” as they marched a lap around the hotel, which the Hebei government operates.

As at last week’s protest, the elders wanted the money they said Hebei officials had stolen from them. At the most recent protest, they told me that, in 1998, the government asked residents to help fund construction of a graveyard. The government promised to return the investment plus up to 30 percent interest within two years, said a protestor who declined to give her name because she is a Communist Party member.

The woman gave the government all her savings – 200,000 yuan, or about $29,400. She encouraged her daughter to give everything she had, too.

“We thought we could buy new houses, move to nice apartments or get health care in two years,” she said, explaining uses for the extra income.

After the promised checks never came, she retired to collect an income in the form of government welfare.

On Mondays, the group also protests in front of the central government’s People’s Policy Department, or Min Zheng Bu, in hopes of getting the attention of officials who could put pressure on the provincial government.

“Maybe now that the government is doing good for Chinese people after the earthquake, they will give us our money back,” the woman said.

It was not possible to obtain a comment from the Hebei government.