All Countries Pakistan

2022 RLLR 22

Citation: 2022 RLLR 22
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: May 24, 2022
Panel: Alannah Hatch
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Birjinder P.S. Mangat
Country: Pakistan
RPD Number: VC2-01083
Associated RPD Number(s): N/A
ATIP Number: A-2022-01960
ATIP Pages: N/A


[1]       MEMBER: These are the reasons for the decision in the claim of XXXX XXXX, a citizen of Pakistan, who is claiming refugee protection pursuant to subsections 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.


[2]       For the reasons that follow, I find that you are a Convention refugee as you have established a serious possibility of persecution on account of a Convention ground, namely religion.


[3]       Briefly, you fear that you will be killed by your Sunni relatives and former Sunni colleagues, members of the XXXX and for the record, that is XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX Pakistan, XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX, generally, and two (2) XXXX leaders, specifically, named XXXX XXXX, XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX and XXXX XXXX XXXX, XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX. You also fear members of other anti-Shia extremist groups such as the XXXX, (inaudible), and the XXXX, as well as the political party, XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX, XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX and you fear them because you have converted to the Shia faith, because you XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX, and because you were actively supporting fellow Shia Muslims in Pakistan as a member of both the XXXX, which is a Shia Muslims religious and political party, and also a lawyers forum that provided legal assistant to Shia Muslims and other minorities.



[4]       I find that your personal identity – an identity as a national of Pakistan is established by the documents provided, including a certified copy of your Pakistan passport.


[5]       For a claimant to be a Convention refugee, the claimant must have a well-founded fear of persecution due to a Convention ground and I find that the harm you fear is by reason of the Convention ground of religion due to your conversion to the Shia faith.


[6]       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 untrue — or to doubt their truthfulness and I found you to be a credible witness. You testified in a straightforward manner, and you answered my questions, giving detailed answers without hesitation. There were no relevant inconsistencies in your testimony or contradictions between your testimony and the other evidence before me. I accept on a balance of probabilities that you converted to the Shia faith. You provided a lengthy Basis of Claim form, a narrative in Exhibit 6 detailing why you chose to convert and how you converted. In addition, you provided documentary evidence showing that you continue to follow your faith in Canada. You have also provided other documentary evidence to support your allegations, including letters from your mother and friend, letters regarding your membership in the XXXX and the lawyers forum in Pakistan, a copy of the fatwa issued against you by the SSP, a medical report showing the injuries that you sustained after you were attacked, the letter that you wrote to the police requesting that an FIR be registered, and a land registry document showing the land and the graveyard that you donated. In summary, you have provided extensive evidence of the threats and the attacks made against you.

[7]       You have also provided several photographs of yourself participating in protests in Calgary and copies of six (6) different newspapers from Pakistan, which reported the protest, and which contain your photograph and name. Upon a review of these items, I find no reason to doubt their authenticity and therefore, place significant weight on them as they serve to corroborate your allegations. I find that you have established on a balance of probabilities that you converted to the Shia faith in XXXX 2018. You joined the XXXX, a Shia political and religious party, in XXXX 2018 and participated in approximately seven (7) to eight (8) peaceful protests, rallies, and hunger strikes in Pakistan in support of Shias.

[8]       You joined the (inaudible) forum in XXXX 2018, an organization formed to provide legal support to Shias and other minorities in XXXX, your home city, and your particularly — you particularly helped three (3) or four (4) families who have been charged with blasphemy. You first began to receive threats in XXXX 2019 when you XXXX XXXX XXXX to a Shia neighbor for his XXXX. You received threats from XXXX XXXX XXXX, who arranged a group of people to attend and attempt to stop XXXX XXXX from happening. Mr. XXXX and his group called the Shias kafirs and infidels. The next day, your cousin who follows XXXX and also both — he also follows both the XXXX and the XXXX — he threatened you, telling you to revert to Sunni Islam and to XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX, or you will face the consequences. You receive more than one (1) threatening call from XXXX XXXX, a leader of the XXXX, who told you to revert to Sunni Islam and XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX or it would be the cause of your death. In XXXX 2019, you were physically attacked by four (4) armed individuals shouting XXXX slogans, calling you ‘Kafir’ and said, ‘If you wish to be alive,’ to ‘Revert to the Sunni faith and give back the land you donated.’ Your neighbours took you to the hospital to tend to your injuries. You then went to the police station who took your complaint, but when you gave the name XXXX XXXX to the police, the police’s attitudes changed and said that you were responsible for the attack and they did not issue an FIR, and you believe that the police told XXXX XXXX of the XXXX about your visit to the police because XXXX XXXX mentioned you in the phone calls.

[9]       In XXXX 2019, XXXX XXXX forcibly entered your home with members of the XXXX while you were not present and searched for you. In XXXX 2019, your XXXX XXXX XXXX of the XXXX in XXXX was murdered by Sunni extremists on his way to work. You arranged a protest and demanded the police to lodge a FIR. You received more threats. You left Pakistan in XXXX 2019 and first flew to the United States where you had intended to make a refugee claim, but you were advised that your claim would be refused in the United States due to President Trump’s immigration policy, so you decided to come to Canada, and you arrived on the XXXX XXXX XXXX 2020 and made a refugee claim at the border. In your absence, the XXXX has posted a fatwa outside your residence, calling for your death as a blasphemer and apostate. You – friends – apostate. Your friends and family have stated that the XXXX continue to search for you.

Well-Founded Fear

[10]     I find that you have established a subjective fear of persecution in Pakistan based on your conversion to the Shia faith. I also find that the objective evidence before me establishes that your fears of persecution are objectively well-founded. The country condition evidence as outlined in the National Documentation Package for Pakistan supports your allegations regarding the treatment of those who follow the Shia faith in Pakistan. Item 1.8 is the UNHCR guidelines for assessing religious minorities in Pakistan, and it indicates blasphemy is criminalized in Pakistan and can carry the death penalty. The addition of the blasphemy laws to the criminal penal code has “Contributed to the institutionalization of discrimination against religious minorities,” and has been criticized for fueling extremist violence and targeted attacks. The report indicates that Shiites are the main target of sectarian, attacks and the number of blasphemy allegations against Shiites increased exponentially between 2012 and 2015. Extremist militant groups view the Shiites as heretics, infidels, and apostates who should be punished by death. A footnote in the UNHCR report — and for the record, that is footnote 369 — indicates the four (4) militant groups which are responsible for most of the attacks against Shiites in Pakistan: one (1) is the XXXX and another is the XXXX.

[11]     You have provided additional evidence regarding the treatment of Shias in Exhibit 5 that indicate sectarian violence has been rising in Pakistan. One (1) article from the Minority Rights Group describes a wave of online and offline campaigns against the Shia community in August and September 2020. Online hate speech was documented and there were major spikes in hate speech during that time period with the Urdu word for ‘Infidel’ being particularly prevalent in searches. Also in Exhibit 5 is an article from The Diplomat that shows at least six (6) large anti-Shia rallies took place by different Sunni groups in five (5) different cities, including Karachi. Another article he provided indicates that rallies were orchestrated on successive dates with at least 30,000 people attending, some chanting anti-Shia slogans, and there are also reports of Shias being killed in broad daylight by Sunni extremists.

[12]     In addition, the objective evidence indicates that 43 blasphemy cases, primarily targeting Shias, were registered in August 2020 alone. One (1) of those charged was a mourner who was only three (3) years old. Societal violence due to religious intolerance is also reported by the United States Department of State report, which is Item 2.1 of the NDP, and it reports Shia Muslim activists reported continuing instances of targeted killings and enforced disappearances in part of the country – in parts of the country. One (1) article he provided in Exhibit 5 suggests that either the state has acquiesced to anti-Shia hysteria or is wholeheartedly backing it. The New York Times article in Exhibit 5 indicates the new political party in Pakistan, the Tehreek-e-Labbaik, was approved to run on a platform of punishing those who blaspheme Islam, and the leader of the political party was also the leader of the banned anti-Shia group, ASWJ. I find that the country condition evidence establishes that Shia practitioners are targeted by militant groups such as the XXXX and LeJ and political parties, such as the Tehreek-e-Labbaik, and you have established on a balance of probabilities that you have been personally targeted for death by the XXXX. As such, I find that there is more than a mere possibility of persecution, should you return to Pakistan.

State Protection

[13]     As a presumption that – absent a complete breakdown, states are capable of protecting their citizens, however, I find that presumption has been rebutted in your case as the agent of persecution is in part, the state. You have sought assistance from the police when you were attacked, and they have refused to register a FIR and said that you were responsible for the attack. Furthermore, the local authorities were unable to protect your mentor, the president of the (inaudible) unit of the political party you were part of. He was targeted and murdered on his way to work in XXXX of 2019. The UNHCR report at NDP 1.8 indicates analysists describe the state authorities as being “Indifferent, incompetent, or even complicit in the violence and discrimination against Shiites.” So accordingly, I find that you have rebutted the presumption of state protection and I find that there is no adequate state protection available to you.


[14]     I find that there is no internal flight alternative for you in Pakistan. The objective country evidence indicated that attacks against Shiites occur throughout Pakistan. As already stated, large demonstrators against — demonstrations against Shias occurred in five (5) cities in succession in 2020. The XXXX is a group that operates throughout Pakistan and (inaudible) has issued a fatwa against you since you left Pakistan. And your family is still approached by members of the XXXX about you and they are keeping tabs on your activities as they had newspaper articles about you, concerning your — the protests that you attended in Calgary. One (1) of the largest militant authorization — organizations in the country has said that they want you killed for your conversion to the Shia faith. So, I find that there is no internal flight alternative available to you in Pakistan.

[15]     So, in conclusion, based on the analysis above, I find that you are a Convention refugee pursuant to section 96 and I accept your claim. This hearing is now concluded.

[16]     COUNSEL: Thank you, ma’am. Thank you very much.

[17]     CLAIMANT: Thank you so —