Citation: 2021 RLLR 84
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: April 6, 2021
Panel: Chelsea Peterdy
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Ardeshir H Zarezadeh
RPD Number: TB9-31929
Associated RPD Number(s): N/A
ATIP Number: A-2022-01778
ATIP Pages: N/A
 MEMBER: This is the decision in the claim for refugee protection of XXXX XXXX, file number is TB9-31929. I have considered your testimony and the other evidence in the case, and I am ready to render my decision orally. You are claiming to be a citizen of Iran and are claiming refugee protection pursuant to Sections 96 and 97.(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
 I find that you are a Convention refugee on the grounds of your religion for the following reasons.
 Your allegations are set out in your Basis of Claim form, which is found in Exhibit 2. In summary, you allege that you are a citizen of Iran who was born Muslim but converted to Christianity after coming to Canada in XXXX 2019. You alleged that you faced a number of problems with the Iranian regime that began during your university years in the late ‘70s. You alleged that you were opposed to the regime after the revolution and that you had become politically active.
 You were detained for one week in 1981 and questioned about your activities and your friends’ activities. You also allege that you had difficulties as a woman and struggled to find employment due to your political activities and gender. Furthermore, in March 2019, you allege you were arrested and detained for one night for violating the dress code.
 Your husband posted your bail the next day to have you released. He testified that you struggled a lot and experienced intense inner turmoil. In or around 2014, 2015, you began attending a yoga class. In this class, you met other Christians who would talk to you about Christianity and Jesus Christ. The yoga instructor also provided you a book on peace that included quotes from the Bible and Jesus Christ.
 You became interested in Christianity but could not explore further in Iran. You came to Canada in XXXX 2019 to visit your sister and started attending a Christian church here. Since May 2020, you have been attending a church online that has Bible studies in Farsi. You wish to be baptized, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, you have unable to. You fear that if you return to Iran, you would be arrested and killed for converting to Christianity.
 Your identity as a national of Iran has been established on a balance of probabilities by your testimony and the supporting documents filed in Exhibits 1 and 5, such as your passport.
 In terms of your general credibility, I find that you are a credible witness and therefore, believe what you have alleged. You were straightforward and forthright in your oral testimony. While you could not remember the name of the church, you were able to tell me your pastor’s name. You testified that you attend church twice a week online and that you were introduced to this church through a friend named XXXX (ph).
 You were able to tell me about the service, your favourite passage from the Bible and what it means to you, how you celebrated Easter and the meaning of the holiday, as well as what it means to you to be a Christian and the peace and calm you have found since converting. I have also considered the documentation you filed, including the assessment from the psychotherapist where you talked about the difficulties you faced in Iran and its impact that it has had on your mental state.
 You have been diagnosed with XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX and I have considered the report in assessing your credibility today. You also provided a letter from XXXX XXXX XXXX (ph) who confirms that you have been attending his church online since May 2020 and describes you as an enthusiastic member of the Farsi speaking Bible study which meets weekly.
 You provided an email from a friend in Iran who describes your political activities in university and how you have talked to him about Christianity for the past few years. You also provided the bail receipt confirming your husband posted your bail on March 26, 2019 after you had been arrested for dress code violations in Iran. Therefore, based on your credible testimony and the documentary evidence provided, I find on a balance of probabilities that you have converted to Christianity and that you have established a subjective fear of persecution.
 The objective documentation supports your allegations and the risks you face on return to Iran as a Christian convert. The objective evidence in the National Documentation Package talks about the persecutory treatments of Christians and in particular, Muslims who have converted to Christianity.
 Items 12.1 and 12.15 of the National Documentation Package state that Iran is an Islamic Republic and Islam is the official state religion. The law prohibits Muslim citizens from changing or renouncing their religious beliefs and the only recognized conversions are from another religion to Islam. Apostasy from Islam is a crime punishable by death and Christin converts face harassment, interrogation, and arrest from the government and are forced to practice in secret. Additionally, I have considered the evidence in the National Documentation Package on the human rights situation for women in Iran.
 Item 2.1 says that amongst a significant human rights abuses in Iran, there is a harsh governmental restriction on the rights of women.
 Item 2.5 states that women face discrimination and personal status matters and talks about the dress code in Iran and harsh sentences for women who protest compulsory hijab laws.
 I find this evidence regarding the treatment of women also heightens the risk you faced in Iran, not only as a Christian convert, but as a woman. Therefore, based on this documentary evidence, I find that you have an objectively well-founded fear of persecution due to your religion that is only exacerbated by your gender.
 I find that state protection would not be available to you were you to seek it in Iran. There is a presumption that absent to complete (inaudible) are capable of protection their citizens, however, there are agents of the state themselves are sources of persecution presumptuous of state protection may be rebutted without exhausting all avenues or recourse in the country.
 In this case, the agent of persecution is the state that bans conversion to Christianity and restricts freedom of religion. Therefore, I find that you have rebutted the presumption of state protection and that adequate state protection would not be available to you in Iran.
Internal Flight Alternative:
 I have also considered whether a viable Internal Flight Alternative exists for you, however, given that Iran is in control of all of its territories and the persecution of Christians is state wide, I find that you face a serious possibility persecution throughout Iran and there is no viable Internal Flight Alternative for you.
 Based on the totality of the evidence, I find that you are a Convention refugee and your claim is therefore accepted.
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