02/27/2016, 13.12
CHINA

Retired and disabled soldiers “invade” Beijing to demand justice

A large group of former members of the People's Liberation Army joins ordinary Chinese in the capital to petition the government. Despite the party rhetoric, PLA veterans complain that the government likes to forget about them when they are disabled or retired from the service. In the capital police beat protesters.

Beijing (AsiaNews) – A large group of retired and disabled People’s Liberation Army veterans are joining the thousands of people “invading” Beijing this week ahead of the upcoming National People's Congress.

Traditionally, this is a time when Chinese present petitions and grievances against local governments and administrators. Increasingly, this has been met with arrests and violence.

Whilst Beijing likes to show off its military and boast about its prowess, PLA veterans told Radio Free Asia’s Chinese Service that the government also likes to forget about them when they are disabled or retired from the service.

Soldiers and officers staged a protest outside the Central Military Commission in Beijing last week in order “to get the government to remember what it owes its military pensioners”.

"Our demands are that they should definitely implement the payment of some of our pensions," said Cui Liyi, a soldier from Hubei. "The government should be paying them, but it keeps deferring the issue, and dragging its feet, and the payment never comes.”

For Cui, even though PLA soldiers did so much for their country, they are now facing old age with little income or other protection. "We want an answer as soon as possible, so we can live peacefully and enjoy our old age," he said.

For making their demands, former soldiers were met with beatings and detentions. "We are in the police station right now,” said a disabled veteran surnamed Yao. “Our platoon leader Qiao was beaten up by police.”

Another veteran surnamed Xu said that he too was beaten. "Disabled PLA veterans come to Beijing to tell them about their issues, and then we get beaten up by the Beijing police," Xu explained. "There are more than 100 people here right now . . . our platoon leader is still lying on the street outside.”

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