Citation: 2020 RLLR 145
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: November 27, 2020
Panel: Isis Van Loon
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Amir Derakhshanfar
RPD Number: VC0-00019
Associated RPD Number(s): VC0-00031, VC0-00034, VC0-00035
ATIP Number: A-2021-00945
ATIP Pages: 000178-000183
 MEMBER: I have considered your testimony and the other evidence in this case, and I am ready to render my decision orally.
 These are the reasons for the decision in the claim of [XXX], the principle claimant, [XXX], the associate claimant, and their two adult female children, claimants [XXX] and [XXX] who are all claiming to be citizens of Iran and are claiming refugee protection pursuant to s. 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
 These claims were joined according to rule 55 of the Refugee Protection Division Rules.
 The claimants’ allegations are set out in their basis of claim forms and in their testimonies. The following is a brief summary:
 The principle claimant and both of her adult daughters are Christian converts, and they fear persecution due to their conversion from Islam. The associate claimant does not identify as Christian but believes that people should be able to choose their own religion freely. Furthermore, he acknowledges a belief in God, but is not a follower of Islam as it is required in Iran.
 I find that the claimants are convention refugees as they have established a well-founded fear of persecution based on convention grounds. Namely religion in the case of the principal claimant and the two adult children claimants and political opinion in the case of the associate claimant.
 I find the claimants’ identities as nationals of Iran is established by their testimonies and the supporting documentation filed including certified true copies of their passports in Exhibit 1.
 When a claimant swears to the truth of certain allegations, this creates a presumption that those allegations are true unless there is a reason to doubt their truthfulness. However, this presumption does not apply to inferences or speculation for which there is no evidentiary basis.
 The claimants testified in a straightforward and detailed manner and with no inconsistencies in their testimonies or contradictions between their testimonies and the other evidence before me that were not explained.
 The female claimants all described in detail their beliefs and contrasted that with the religion into which they were born in Iran. The principle claimant said, “If we say that we are God’s children in any other religion, meaning our previous religions, if I were to say this, that I am a child of God, they would punish me. They would never allow me to continue with my life. Now, I am certain that God, the father, supports me.” Her daughters echoed the support that they feel from their new religion, particularly while their mother was facing a serious health challenge.
 The associate claimant described how he found out about his family’s conversion, and he expressed his tolerance for other religious views. He credibly described how he wished he had known about this conversion sooner and clearly supported his family members’ rights to make their own decisions about religion. As for himself, he explained that he had not converted, although he had learned a fair bit about Christianity from his family, and he remains open-minded.
 I have found all of their explanations and descriptions to be compelling and clear. Furthermore, they provided the following relevant probative documents: There is a letter on page 17 of Exhibit 4 from [XXX] (ph) from [XXX] in [XXX] in the Calgary Assembly of [XXX] and [XXX] Church. The principle claimant has been attending since [XXX] 2018. Her daughters joined afterwards.
 The Pastor said that the principle claimant, “gave a beautiful testimony during a Sunday church service in regard to how she became a believer in Jesus Christ and accepted him as her personal saviour” and studied for baptism on [XXX] of 2019. Then she joined the Bible study group according to the Pastor. The Pastor said that the daughters were baptized on [XXX] of 2020 and that they too gave public testimony of their faith in Jesus Christ.
 I find these documents are relevant and served to corroborate the core allegations of the three female claimants that they are Christian converts. The narrative and testimony of the claimants corresponds to the ample objective evidence about conditions in Iran pertaining to converts from Islam as well as those who oppose the government-imposed religion.
 Apparently I have no reason to doubt the central elements underpinning the claim for protection nor the claimant’s stated subjective fear. I found all four claimants to be credible witnesses and therefore have accepted as true the facts that they have alleged in support of their claim.
 I find the persecution the principle claimant and her adult daughters face has a nexus to one of the five convention grounds, that of religion. And I find that the associate claimant has established a nexus to political opinion and therefore this claim will be assessed under s. 96.
 I acknowledge that the principle claimant and the two adult children as women also have a nexus to membership in a particular social group as women in Iran and that the associate claimant could also be considered for membership in a particular social group as a family member of claimants facing persecution on a convention ground.
 However, I have found the respective nexuses to religion and political opinion are sufficient for me to decide this claim for asylum, and therefore, I have analyzed the claims solely on these grounds.
 In order to be considered a convention refugee, a claimant must describe that they have a well-founded fear of persecution which includes both a subjective and an objective basis.
 Based on the claimant’s testimonies and supporting documents as well as the country condition documents, I find that all four claimants have a well-founded fear of persecution for the following reasons:
 The principle claimant started attending church in Canada around [XXX] of 2018 with her Canadian relatives who were Christians, but she did not convert at the time. She returned briefly to Iran in [XXX] of 2019 to have her visa extended and then came back to Canada to stay with her daughters. She became more involved with Christianity through her family members and by attending church and decided to convert. However, she feared telling her husband who was still in Iran, the associated claimant, over the phone as this was risky.
 Her daughters, as well, became increasingly interested in Christianity after seeing the positive changes in their mother that her Christianity had brought to her. After the associate claimant came to Canada in [XXX] 2019 having been threatened, he was able to confirm his family’s conversion to Christianity, and all four of them claimed asylum while their visitors and student visas respectively were still valid. Their actions in addition to the amply country condition documents below have established their subjective fear of persecution in Iran.
 The country documentation is consistent with the claimant’s testimonies and fearing persecution in Iran due to the conversion of three of the claimants to Christianity and due to the forth claimant’s opposition to this persecution and beliefs that religious freedom is important.
 The law prohibits Muslim citizens from changing or renouncing their religious beliefs. Under Iranian law, a Muslim who leaves his or her faith or converts to another religion can be charged with apostasy, and this is a crime punishable by death.
 Amnesty International stated in June 2019, “Freedom of religion and belief continues to be systematically violated. The authorities impose on people of all faith as well as atheists codes of conduct rooted in a strict interpretation of Shia Islam. The right to change or renounce religious beliefs continues to be violated with those converting from Islam being at risk of arbitrary detention, torture, and even the death penalty.”
 The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade assesses that those accused of religiously based charges are also likely to face charges related to national security, and they are unlikely to have adequate legal defence and are likely to be convicted.
 While Shia jurors generally hold only that male apostates are to be killed, females on the other hand may only be imprisoned. The US Department of State says that prison conditions were harsh and life-threatening due to food shortages, gross over-crowding, physical abuse, and inadequate sanitary conditions and medical care.
 I am satisfied that regardless of whether a convert faces the death penalty or prison, the conditions and treatment are such that both amount to persecution. Based on all the evidence before me, I find the principle claimant and her two adult daughter claimants would face a serious possibility of persecution from the state due to the conversion from Islam to Christianity if they were to return to Iran.
 The associate claimant is in fact opposing the government’s religious requirements in his support for his family members who have converted to Christianity. He described being threatened and questioned about his family members’ religion in the months before he came to Canada. At that time, he was not even aware that they had converted as they had feared telling him over the phone that the authorities would discover this.
 The associate claimant disagrees with the state position on religious freedom in Iran. He said that, “The Iranian regime needs to change based on the views in the constitution they” unlike himself, “do not accept any other religion or belief.” He said, “There needs to be an environment that allows people to choose their religion freely, to have their own beliefs, and be respected for it.”
 The Islamic Republic of Iran is an authoritarian theocratic republic and imposes severe restrictions on many freedoms including religious freedom. The government’s human rights record remained extremely poor and worsened, and there were numerous reports of arbitrary killings and forced disappearances as well as torture by government agents, corruptions widespread at all levels of the government, and impunity is pervasive through all levels of government and security forces according to NDP 2.1 and 1.7.
 I have noted that the associate claimant has expressed an opinion and is against the government of Iran by his support for religious freedom. Based on all the evidence before me, I find that he, too, would face a serious possibility of persecution based on this political opinion if he were to return to Iran.
 I also note that he has vowed to stay with his family and were he to do so and they are still Christian converts, he would suffer persecution as well for that reason.
State Protection and Internal Flight Alternative
 In this case, the agent of persecution is the state. The persecution the claimants would face if returned to Iran is at the hands of the authorities, and accordingly, I find there is no state protection available to the claimants, and the presumption of state protection is rebutted.
 The state of Iran is in control of all of its territories, and therefore, again on the evidence before me, I find that there is a serious possibility of persecution throughout Iran. There is no viable internal flight alternative for these claimants in their particular circumstances.
 Based on the totality of the evidence, I conclude that the claimants are convention refugees, and accordingly, I am accepting all of their claims.
 Okay, so that is the end of my decision. Interpreter, if you would like to go ahead and give a summary. That would be very welcome.
 INTERPRETER: Sure thing.