Categories
All Countries Iran

2022 RLLR 73

Citation: 2022 RLLR 73
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: May 25, 2022
Panel: K. Khamsi
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Brian Ibrahim Cintosun
Country: Iran
RPD Number: TC1-19541
Associated RPD Number(s): TC1-11915
ATIP Number: A-2022-01960
ATIP Pages: N/A

DECISION

[1]       MEMBER: XXXX and XXXX XXXX, you claim to be citizens of Iran, and you are claiming refugee protection pursuant to section 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

[2]       Based on your testimony and the other evidence I have in front of me, I find that you are Convention refugees, and that you have established a serious possibility of persecution on account of your religion, because you have converted to Islam to Christianity.

[3]       Your allegations are fully set out in your Basis of Claim form.

[4]       In summary, you fear persecution at the hands of the government of Iran because you have converted from Islam to Christianity. You also fear not to be able to practise your religion freely in Iran.

[5]       As I mentioned, I have no issue with your personal identity. I have that your identities as citizens of Iran was established based on your testimony and supporting documents. You have provided birth certificates, ID cards, and Iranian passports including Canadian visas.

[6]       Now with regards to credibility.

[7]       Based on the low refugee threshold, on the balance of probabilities, I find that you have converted to Christianity, whatever the reason you have, you did that.

[8]       You testified that you found peace in your new religion. And you grew up not being able to choose a religion, and now you feel free to choose the religion of Christianity, which is more tolerant than the Islamic religion. And you found your path. And you converted here in Canada, and you are still learning about your new faith, and you are afraid to return to Iran and not be able to practise and know more about your new religion.

[9]       I made my determination in a forward-looking determination. XXXX, you have no subjective fear because you only started to practise your religion here in Canada. You also mentioned that the authorities may know about your conversion, and you also participated in some demonstrations against the government of Iran.

[10]     However, as I told you at the beginning, I’m going to concentrate on your religion and just to the fact that you would feel constricted and not be able to practise your religion freely is against human right and the freedom to practise your own religion in total freedom. And because of that, if you do that you may be persecuted by the government of Iran.

[11]     And that’s enough to satisfy me, on the balance of probabilities, that you have a well-founded fear of persecution.

[12]     This fear is objectively well founded by the objective evidence that we have on file.

[13]     It shows that Muslim born in Iran who convert to any other religion can be considered as apostates, which is a criminal offence in Iran. And that the government of Iran would not recognize you as a Christian under the law, even if Christianity and Judaism and Zoroastrianism, are recognized religions in Iran.

[14]     So, there is a risk that you may be charged with apostasy or based on the evidence, Christian converts can also be charged as being against the government because they are considered as a threat to the government, and they can be charged as acting against national security or propagating what they call Zionist Christianity.

[15]     I have also looked at state protection and the internal flight alternative. And because the State may be the agent of persecution if you are found out to have converted, you have rebutted the presumption of state protection.

[16]     And with regard to internal flight alternative, based on the evidence, I find that there is nowhere in Iran where you can go and practise your religion freely without the fear of being arrested and detained by the Iranian authorities.

[17]     Therefore, I find there is no viable internal flight alternative available for you in Iran.

[18]     To conclude, and based on the totality of the evidence, I find that you are Convention refugee, and accordingly I accept your claim.

——— REASONS CONCLUDED ———

Categories
All Countries China

2022 RLLR 72

Citation: 2022 RLLR 72
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: May 9, 2022
Panel: M. Rose
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Seyfi Sun
Country: China
RPD Number: TC1-19558
Associated RPD Number(s): N/A
ATIP Number: A-2022-01960
ATIP Pages: N/A

DECISION

[1]       MEMBER: All right, so this is the decision for XXXX XXXX, the principal claimant file number is TC1-19558.  I’ve had the opportunity today to hear your testimony and consider the other evidence in this case and so I am ready to render my decision orally.

[2]       Now you are claiming to be a citizen of China and claiming refugee protection pursuant to Sections 96 and 97 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and today I do find that you are a Convention refugee for the following reasons.

[3]       In terms of the full allegations, now those are set out in your Basis of Claim form but to briefly summarize, you allege a fear of persecution in China as a result of your religion.  So since coming to Canada you have become a Christian and you fear persecution and you would be unable to practice your religion if you went back to China.

[4]       Now your personal identity as a citizen of China has been established both by the testimony and the supporting documents and that includes a copy of your passport which is found in Exhibit 1.  So I do find on a balance of probabilities that identity and country of reference have been established.

[5]       Now considering all of the evidence I had in taking into account your particular circumstances I did find that you were a credible witness and I accept your testimony.  Significantly there were no inconsistencies, omissions or contradictions between your testimony and the other evidence that I have before me including your Basis of Claim form. 

[6]       You testified today about how you became involved with the Living Stone Church here in Canada, so you only came to Christianity after you had arrived in Canada and after the birth of your son.  What I found particularly compelling however was your spontaneous and detailed responses to questions that I asked about your religious beliefs, for example you were able to expand upon the miracles that you studied in the Bible and also you spoke about how your religion has impacted you, how it has affected your life and why you would not be able to practice your faith freely in China.

[7]       Now I do note that there was a significant delay in making the claim, so you were without status in Canada for quite a number of years but when I take into account your particular circumstances as well as your explanation I do not find that that is determinative in this case. 

[8]       So as I mentioned it was only after coming to Canada that you became Christian, so that was one factor but furthermore that you were very young, you come to Canada to study as you were in a strange country all of a sudden cut off from your family and with a newborn child to care for, so I do accept your explanation about essentially being overwhelmed and not wanting to deal with that decision and then you spoke candidly about you know what led to the decision to actually make the claim last year.  So you spoke about wanting you know your son to have more opportunities so I do find that you’ve provided a reasonable explanation for the delay in making this claim.

[9]       Now in addition to your testimony which I said I had no reason to doubt, you’ve also provided a number of relevant and prohibitive documents and those do include a letter from your mother and from your friend here in Canada corroborating aspects of your Basis of Claim form as was the letter from the Living Stone Assembly Church and the baptism certificate and photographs from the baptism ceremony.  So I do find that all these documents are relevant and serve to corroborate the core allegation that you have become Christian.

[10]     So I do find on a balance of probabilities that you are a genuine believer in Christianity and you have established a subjective fear of return to China.  I do find that there is a link between what you fear and one (1) of the five (5) Convention grounds, in your case that is your religion.

[11]     In looking at the country condition documents for China the documentation in the National Documentation Package makes it very clear that religious persecution of Christians in China is not getting better, in fact it’s getting much worse and the Communist Party of China is tightening things up and making it yet even more restrictive so that people don’t have the right to exercise religious freedoms.  For example in Item 2.9 of the NDP it notes that religious groups in China register with the government, those registration requirements are very restrictive, it serves to limit the growth of religious groups and the right to freedom of religion, assembly and association.  Items 12.3 and 12.8 note that while there has been a variation in enforcement of religious restrictions across different provinces, the NDP reports that there has been a significant shift in China’s approach to religion which has led to an increase in religious persecution throughout China.

[12]     Item 12.8 of the NDP indicates that according to the CFR in reaction to what is described as a surge in Christianity in China, adherents of the Christian religion have faced ongoing persecution in recent years.  While house and underground churches traditionally face the brunt of persecution, under the president’s leadership state sanctioned churches have also been targeted.  The increase in religious regulations and control has led to oversight of online discussions, installation of surveillance cameras in churches, collection of data on house churches and their members, increased interrogations and fines of religious practitioners, demolition of churches and religious symbols, restrictions on the establishment and operation of religious schools and on the printing of Bibles.

[13]     Item 12.26 of the NDP notes that under new regulations religious personnel appointed at state sanctioned churches are required to make public pledges of loyalty to the communist ideology and party leaders and in some areas the president’s portrait is placed in the church, requirement is for congregations in the state sanctioned churches to sing the national anthem before worship, so that’s consistent with what you’ve learned about the state sanctioned Christianity in China.

[14]     So overall the objective evidence is consistent with what your testimony and what you have alleged.  So it was clear from your testimony that your religion is important to you and as you would continue to practice and would not be attending a state sanctioned church if you return to China that would put you at risk given the tightening of the government controls over religious practices.

[15]     So I do find that the country condition evidence regarding the treatment of Christians lead me to find that your fear has an objective basis and is well-founded.

[16]     Looking at the issue of state protection and Internal Flight Alternative, as the state in this case is essentially the agent of persecution I do not find that state protection would be available for you and furthermore there would be nowhere else in China that you could safely reside so there would be no Internal Flight Alternative available for you.

[17]     So based on all of this evidence I do find you to be a Convention refugee and your claim is therefore accepted.

——— REASONS CONCLUDED ———

Categories
All Countries Iran

2022 RLLR 71

Citation: 2022 RLLR 71
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: June 17, 2022
Panel: Laurie Letheren
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Robin David Bajer
Country: Iran
RPD Number: TC1-20082
Associated RPD Number(s): N/A
ATIP Number: A-2022-01960
ATIP Pages: N/A

DECISION

[1]       MEMBER: These are the reasons in the claim made by XXXX XXXX, TC1-20082.

[2]       You claim to be a citizen of Iran. You are seeking refugee protection pursuant to sections 96 and 97 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

[3]       I have found that your evidence demonstrates that you are a Convention refugee on the basis of your religion as a Kurdish follower of the Yaresan religion, which is also known as the Ahl-e Haqq religion.

[4]       The allegations you provided in detail in your Basis of Claim form and the amendments, which are at Exhibits 2 and 6.

[5]       To summarize, you allege fear of persecution from the Iranian government, members of the Iranian society, as a follower of the Yaresan religion.

[6]       I have found that you’ve established your identity, your personal identity and identity as a citizen of Iran, through your testimony and the copies of your passports, which can be found at Exhibit 1.

[7]       You also have provided other identity documents.

[8]       I found that you were a very credible witness. I therefore believe all that you alleged in support of your claim. I found that you have testified in a very straightforward manner. There were no material inconsistencies in your testimony, or contradictions between your testimony and the other evidence before me, or the allegations made in your Basis of Claim form.

[9]       You provided spontaneous and detailed testimony regarding your religious adherence and the Yaresan faith. You were knowledgeable about the ceremonies and observances of the religion. You were able to describe them fully to me. You were also able to explain that you have continued with the practice of your Yaresan faith, and explained your beliefs and why these beliefs remain very important to you.

[10]     You explained how you connect to others who practise the Yaresan faith, through Instagram or Telegram, through friends that you’ve met in Canada, and that you also connect with your family in Iran when they are practising what you called Nazr, which you described as very important part of your religious practice.

[11]     You submitted letters from your father and sister, explaining the family’s adherence to your Yaresan faith, and how they’ve had to keep that religious faith secret. You also submitted photos to explain or showing your father, your mother, and your sisters in your home. You describe the photos that we could see on the wall as being the leader of the Yaresan religion, and one (1) of the students of that leader. You explained the significance of the items that were on the table in the same room, between both your parents and your sisters.

[12]     You also had some photographs showing the places of religious practice that you and your family attend, you had attended, in your small city of XXXX. And also, you showed members of your family and community in a Nazr practice.

[13]     In addition, you had a letter from the XXXX Department of the Iranian government, that you explained was given to employers when there were new laws that all employers, even those who would be considered to be private employers, had to investigate employees’ backgrounds and, in particular, to investigate their religion. You explained how, your employer at a private school, had to do this background check on you, and that they had to, as you described, pull some strings to allow you to continue to work, even though you did not practise the Islamic religion.

[14]     You have provided letters from members of the Yari community here in Canada, who said that you met someone in Vancouver with whom you have been practising your Yaresan religion.

[15]     You also submitted some social media pages belonging to you, showing that you follow various Yaresan groups, and that you connect through these channels when there are live Yaresan events. And you also have some items showing that you’ve posted on your own social media pages, and all of these would indicate that you are affiliated with the Yaresan religion and community.

[16]     I accept, on a balance of probabilities, that you are practitioner of the Yaresan Ahl-e Haqq faith.

[17]     You testified about your experiences as a follower of the Yaresan religion while you were in living in Iran. And how the persecution and discrimination that you experienced while living there. I find that the country condition documents that I have in the National Documentation Package for Iran corroborate your allegations and establish that there is an objective basis to your claim.

[18]     I find that this National Documentation Package and the objective evidence confirms your testimony that you cannot openly practise your faith in Iran without facing serious possibility of persecution.

[19]     Persons who follow the Yaresan faith must practise secretly, otherwise they are denied access to education, jobs, housing, and other basic rights in Iran. You testified about your experience as a teacher and how it took longer for you to secure employment because of the background check the founder of the school had to do on you. And that this person had to pull some strings in order to allow you to work in that school. You also explained how, because of your religion and the fact that your religion would be discovered, you could never get a government job.

[20]     According to the information that I have in the National Documentation Package for Iran, there are reports of people who are openly practising their Yaresan faith, and are activists in that community, who have been arrested and detained.

[21]     According to the Danish Immigration Service report on Yaris, which is at the National Documentation Package Item 12.16, it notes that the Iranian government has sought and actively repressed the spread of the Yaresan religion, claiming that the teachers and active practitioners are acting against the national security, and guilty of corruption on Earth.

[22]     The US Department of State’s International Religious Freedom report for 2019 indicates that according to NGO reports, Yaresan followers continue to be subjected to frequent arrest, detentions, harassment, and surveillance.

[23]     In correspondence with the Research Directorate, a representative from the Human Rights Activist News Agency stated there have been multiple reports of arrest and prison terms given to Yaresan practitioners. It’s stated at Item 12.16 of the NDP, that generally, the level of persecution of Yaresan followers depends on their level of activity, and how open and visible their activity is. International reports state that Yaresan followers have been arrested at different times and places, on charges including insulting the sacred, corruption of the Earth, blasphemy, obtaining illicit wealth, and interference in medical affairs. And have received sentences ranging from two (2) to five (5) years imprisonment.

[24]     One (1) report, in Item 12.1 of the NDP, indicates that Yaresan practitioners have been executed. The US International Religious Freedom Report for 2019 indicates that authorities arrested a Yaresan practitioner and sentenced them to five (5) years in prison for acting against national security. Sources report that another practitioner was sentenced to 13 years in prison, and received 74 lashes.

[25]     The BBC’s monitoring March 2022 monthly human rights report on Iran indicates that the Yaresan practitioners were sentenced for charges including propaganda against the establishment and acting against national security for the administration of the so-called illegal Yaresan channel.

[26]     So, this corroborates all of your allegations, that you and your family’s adherence has had to be secret. You never disclosed your religion to anybody, presented yourself as a Shi’a Muslim to protect yourself in Iran. You were able to obtain an education and a profession, but only because you made efforts to conceal your religion. A letter from a long-time friend indicates that they were not aware of your religion, until recently when you told them after coming here to Canada.

[27]     The US Commission for International Religious Freedoms at Item 12.2 of the NDP states that members of the Yaresan community face discrimination in education, employment, and running for political office throughout the country.

[28]     The NDP also confirms that Yaresani men, recognized by their particular moustaches, continue to face employment discrimination and Shi’a preachers continue to encourage social discrimination against the Yaresanis.

[29]     So having taken into account the objective evidence, together with your consistent and credible testimony, which is supported by your documents that you have provided, I find that your fear of persecution in Iran is well founded.

[30]     Given the evidence before me, both personal and objective, I find you face a serious possibility of persecution in Iran if you were to return for these reasons that I have all set out.

[31]     As one (1) of the potential agents of persecution is the State, I find that it would not be reasonable for you to seek state protection in Iran should you experience this persecution.

[32]     As the laws and conditions that are described in the National Documentation Package are applicable throughout the entire country, I find that you would face a serious possibility of persecution every part of Iran. And therefore, there would be no viable internal flight alternative available to you.

[33]     So, for all these reasons, I find that you are a Convention refugee, and I accept your claim.

——— REASONS CONCLUDED ———

Categories
All Countries Iran

2022 RLLR 70

Citation: 2022 RLLR 70
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: June 13, 2022
Panel: Deborah Coyne
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Adam Wawrzkiewicz
Country: Iran
RPD Number: TC1-21546
Associated RPD Number(s): TC1-21548, TC1-21549, TC2-03396, TC2-03397
ATIP Number: A-2022-01960
ATIP Pages: N/A

DECISION

[1]       MEMBER: These are the reasons for decision in the claims of XXXX XXXX, the principal claimant, her spouse, XXXX XXXX, the associate claimant, and their child XXXX XXXX, the minor claimant, the principal claimant’s sister, XXXX XXXX, the aunt, and her brother-in-law, the principal claimant’s brother-in-law, XXXX XXXX, the husband of XXXX (ph), who claim to be citizens of Iran and are claiming refugee protection pursuant to Section 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.  

[2]       The tribunal designated XXXX XXXX as a representative for the minor child in the claim.

ALLEGATIONS

[3]       The allegations are fully set out in the Basis of Claim narratives of the principal claimant and her sister. The claimants allege a fear of persecution at the hands of the Iranian government because of the conversion of the claimants from Islam to Christianity. 

DECISION

[4]       The panel finds that the principal and associate claimants have established that they face a serious possibility of persecution because of their conversion from Islam to Christianity if they return to Iran, that’s all four adult claimants.  The claimants are therefore Convention refugees pursuant to Section 96 of IRPA. The minor claimant is also a Convention refugee as part of a family of members who have been found to be Convention refugees.

IDENTITY

[5]       On a balance of probabilities, the claimants established they are citizens of Iran based on the copies of the claimants’ passports in Exhibit 1.

CREDIBILITY

[6]       Based on the documents in the file including the principal claimant’s Basis of Claim narrative and the narrative of her sister and the testimony today, the panel has noted no serious credibility issues.

[7]       On a balance of probabilities, the panel finds the following allegations to be true. The adult claimants do not support the strict rules and regulations imposed by the Islamic theocratic regime.  The principal claimant and her sister grew up in an open-minded family who objected to the government enforced religion and especially the oppression of women. Two of their sisters left Iran and one settled in Canada and the other in the United States. The principal claimant began to explore Christianity with an Armenian Christian co-worker and  was fired from her job after management found some notes about Christianity at her desk.  She then started a XXXX XXXX and had to navigate around the Basij to ensure adequate compliance with Islamic norms imposed by the state.  The principal claimant  and her husband visited Canada in 2018 and 2019 and were able to attend church regularly and learn about Christianity in greater depth.  The principal claimant was held for questioning about her trip to Canada and her religious beliefs by the Talat (ph) at the airport when she returned in 2020.  Both claimants were under surveillance. 

[8]       On XXXX XXXX XXXX 2021, the claimants received a summons to appear in court on XXXX XXXX. At that point, they decided the only option was to flee Iran and they returned to Canada on XXXX XXXX, 2021 and submitted their claims for refugee protection.  In the meantime, the principal claimant’s sister and her husband also explored Christianity and were strong opponents of the Iranian theocracy.  They had regular run-ins with authorities for non-compliance with Islamic norms imposed by the state.  The claimants joined the principal claimant’s family in Canada on XXXX XXXX, 2021. 

[9]       All of the adult claimants have concluded they prefer the peace, humanity, and inclusiveness of Christianity to the harsh doctrine and rules and regulations of the Islam imposed by the Iranian theocracy.  Since arriving in Canada, they have all attended the XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX and are active members of the congregation.  They were all baptized on XXXX XXXX, 2022. 

[10]     The claimants fear returning to Iran because of the serious penalties imposed on converts by the Iranian theocracy.  They have already been targeted by Iranian authorities.  The panel finds that the evidence with respect to the claimants’ conversion to Christianity was internally consistent and plausible. There are no contradictions or omissions that go to the core of the claim. 

[11]     The allegations were supported by personal documents that the panel finds credible in Exhibits 5, 6, and 7.  Exhibits 5 and 7 include the letters from the senior pastor of the XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX confirming the claimants’ commitment to Christianity and active membership in the church since XXXX 2021.  Exhibit 6 includes the four baptism certificates. The panel accepts the evidence as establishing on a balance of probabilities the claimant’s subjective fear of persecution because of their conversion to Christianity.

[12]     So, turning now briefly to the objective basis. The panel has reviewed the April 29th, 2002 National Documentation Package for Iran which is Exhibit 3.  It contains a substantial amount of objective documentary evidence on religious persecution in Iran.

[13]     Item 2.1 is the U.S. Department of State 2021 Human Rights Report indicates the Government of Iran imposes severe restrictions on the freedom of religion.  Iranian law prohibits citizens from converting from Islam to another religion.  Christians who converted from Islam experienced disproportionate levels of arrest, detention, and high levels of harassment and surveillance and many converts practice their religion in secret.  Severe violations such as prolonged detention, torture, and executions targeting some Christian converts continue. 

[14]     There is also a useful overview in item 12.15 which is the UK Home Office Country Policy Report on both Iranian Christians and Christian converts which is in early 2020 and also other, many other documents going into more detail about the crime of apostacy and the provisions of Sharia law and the application, and so forth.

[15]     Then there is item 12.2 which is the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom 2021 Annual Report on Iran in which the USCRIF recommends that the U.S. Government continue to redesignate Iran as a country of particular concern for engaging in systematic ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom as defined in the International Religious Freedom Act. 

[16]     Item 12.2 also notes this year that Iran has escalated its persecution of Christians in 2020, particularly converts from Islam and it provides some details to support that statement.

[17]     So the panel finds that the claimant’s subjective fear  of returning to Iran because of their conversion to Christianity is well founded based on the totality of the objective documentary evidence before the panel. 

STATE PROTECTION

18]       As the agent of persecution is the Government of Iran, the panel finds that it would be objectively unreasonable for the claimants to seek the protection of the Iranian government.  Therefore the panel finds the claimants have rebutted the presumption of state protection with clear and convincing evidence.

INTERNAL FLIGHT ALTERNATIVE

[19]     The panel finds that the objective evidence establishes that authorities operate similarly throughout Iran and the claimants face a serious possibility of persecution throughout Iran because of their religion and therefore no viable Internal Flight Alternative is available.

CONCLUSION

[20]     The panel finds that the principal and associate claimants or persons have established that they face a serious possibility of persecution because of their conversion from Islam to Christianity if they return to Iran. The claimants are therefore Convention refugees pursuant to Section 96 of the IRPA and the minor claimant is also a Convention refugee as part of a family of members who have been found to be Convention refugees. Their claims are accepted. 

——— REASONS CONCLUDED ———

Categories
All Countries Pakistan

2022 RLLR 62

Citation: 2022 RLLR 62
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: July 28, 2022
Panel: Warren Chin
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Shah Rukh Zohaib Abbas
Country: Pakistan
RPD Number: TC2-04392
Associated RPD Number(s): N/A
ATIP Number: A-2022-01960
ATIP Pages: N/A

DECISION

[1]       MEMBER: This is a decision for the claimant XXXX XXXX, file number TC2-04392. The hearing date is July the 28th, 2022. It is Warren Chin rendering the decision. The claimant has waived interpretation for the purposes of rendering the decision. Thank you for that. I have considered your testimony and the other evidence in this case, and I am ready to render my decision orally. The claimant is claiming to be a citizen of Pakistan and is claiming refugee protection pursuant to section 96 and sub section 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

DETERMINATION

[2]       I find that the claimant is a Convention refugee on the grounds of his religion. And considering that there is a nexus between what the claimant fears in section 96, I have assessed this claim pursuant to section 96.

ALLEGATIONS

[3]       The claimant’s allegations are found in his Basis of Claim form, which are found in Exhibit 2. In summary, the claimant alleges persecution from a militant group, specifically the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, hereafter referred to as the LEJ. The claimant alleges to have a history of being a Shia-Muslim, being religious growing up and becoming more involved with his imambargah since returning to Pakistan in XXXX of 2021 and becoming a part of the XXXX XXXX. The claimant alleges that on XXXX XXXX, 2021, he XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX for the extension of his imambargah, as the claimant owned a plot of land that was adjacent to the imambargah. He claims that the news spread of his gesture.

[4]       The claimant alleges that on XXXX XXXX XXXX 2021, while the claimant was inspecting the site, four (4) people visited inquiring about claimant and these individuals were LEJ members. They attacked the claimant by hitting the claimant head (sic) on a wall. And the claimant suffered injuries to his head and was bleeding. He was given a warning to forget about that project and to leave his activities within the imambargah. The claimant was taken to the hospital and treated for those injuries. The claimant alleges then on XXXX XXXX, 2021, he was in the market while collecting donations for the project. The claimant then witnessed a beating and the claimant intervened and the attacker instead assaulted the claimant. The claimant was called a Shia Kafir and the attacker then made a phone call for reinforcements, at which point the claimant fled to his home.

[5]       The claimant alleges that on XXXX XXXX XXXX 2021, there was a groundbreaking ceremony for the imambargah and his XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX. The claimant invited prominent leaders to talk about the sacrifices of Ahl al-Bayt. And the claimant also gave speeches on XXXX XXXX XXXX 2021. The claimant learned that there was a fatwa order issued against him, which ordered LEJ goons to kill the claimant. The claimant alleges that on XXXX XXXX, he learned from his friend that the police have started searching for the claimant due to an FIR, First Information Report that was filed by the maulvi against the claimant for blasphemy

[6]       On XXXX XXXX XXXX 2021, the claimant fled Pakistan. He transited through the United States and arrived in Canada on XXXX XXXX XXXX 2021, and made a claim for refugee protection shortly thereafter. The claimant alleged that he will be harmed or killed anywhere throughout Pakistan and that he will not be protected.

Identity

[7]       The claimant’s identity is established on a balance of probabilities by his passport on the record that can be found in Exhibit 1.

Credibility

[8]       I do find this claimant to be in an overall credible witness and I, therefore, believe what he has alleged in support of his claim. He testified in a straightforward manner. He spoke naturally and he did not embellish his story. He gave spontaneous details and there were no relevant inconsistencies between his testimony or contradictions within his evidence, which have not been explained in a satisfactory manner. The claimant’s refugee claim is well-documented, and I will take this opportunity to go through the claimant’s material evidence. In support of the claimant’s religious identity, he supplied two (2) affidavits from The Imam XXXX XXXX (ph) that attest to the claimant’s involvement within the imambargah and his appointment to the XXXX XXXX. In relation to his fears, he disclosed two (2) police reports dated XXXX XXXX, 2021, and XXXX XXXX XXXX 2021 — sorry, it was XXXX XXXX XXXX 2019 and XXXX XXXX XXXX 2021, as well as copies of the FIR. And a copy of the fatwa issued against him, that could be found at pages 35 through 41 at Exhibit 5. He also disclosed the newspaper article outlining the attack on the claimant. He provided several other affidavits from his brother’s wife, his father, and his lawyer in Pakistan. And there are other documents that establish the claimant’s status as a Shia-Muslim. He provided XXXX slips, evidencing his XXXX history with the imambargah in Pakistan. He also provided evidence of his religious involvement here in Canada. He supplied a letter from the Al Imam Society (ph) in Toronto, Canada that is dated XXXX 2022.

[9]       Now, in particular this evidence, in my view, corroborates the claimant’s testimony and his allegations is set out in his Basis of Claim form. And after reviewing these documents, I have no reason to doubt their authenticity. The claimant also testified in detail about the attack on him in XXXX 2021. The claimant was able to correctly identify the injuries that he sustained, being injuries to his face. He provided corroborative documents for that attack as well. He provided entry from the daily diary evidence, his complaint to the police. And on the basis of the documentary evidence combined with the claimant’s testimony, I accept the claimant’s allegations, in particular, I find the claimant has established that he a Shia-Muslim, that he is being targeted by the LEJ due to his religious identity as a Shia-Muslim, and the high-profile nature of his activities. Therefore, his subjective fears are established on a balance of probabilities.

Objective Basis

[10]     I find that the claimant has established that he has a serious possibility of persecution or harm should he return to Pakistan, and that he is an active member of his imambargah, and that he has held the position of authority within it. I find that the objective country condition evidence also supports the claimant’s allegations. At Item 2.1, which is a US Department of State Country report on human rights practices for 2019, indicates that societal violence in Pakistan due to religious intolerance remains a serious problem throughout the year. And it reported severe restrictions on religious freedoms. It further indicates that violence, abuse, the social and religious intolerance by militant organizations and other non-state actors contributed to a culture of lawlessness throughout the country. Item 2.3, which is an Amnesty International document on human rights in Pakistan at page 8, indicate that armed groups carry out such a tax on individuals belonging to religious minority groups throughout 2019, which include members of the Shia community.

[11]     The Australian DFAT, a document dated February 2019 at Item 1.13 at paragraphs 3.99 and 3.100, indicate that sectarian violence in Pakistan has been historically targeting individuals, places of worship, shrines, and religious schools, and that the Shia community traditionally represented a higher proportion of the casualties. Moreover, the Shia community continued to face threats from anti-Shia militant groups, including the LEJ, and other extremist groups. The LEJ stated its objective is to establish an Islamic Sunni state in Pakistan, and it seeks to have all Shia declared as nonbelievers or apostates, and to alienate other minority religious groups. Therefore, on the basis of the objective evidence, I find that the claimant’s subjective fear has an objective basis.

State Protection

[12]     Item 1.8 of the UNHCR eligibility guidelines for assessing the international protection needs of members of religious minorities from Pakistan states that the government has been criticized for failing to protect Shia-Muslims from attacks and allowing militant organizations to operate with impunity, by failing to investigate and punish those responsible for violent attacks. The DFAT reports that the US Commission on international religious freedoms designates Pakistan as a country of particular concern and that the Pakistani government has failed to provide adequate protections to religious minorities and furthermore, that it perpetrated systematic and egregious violations of religious freedoms and that can be found at Item 1.13 of Exhibit 3. The claimant’s evidence is that he went to the police. He was attacked in XXXX of 2021. He disclosed the daily diary entry to corroborate his efforts. He also went to the police after the attack in the market in XXXX of 2021. And given that the claimant’s evidence is that he has already gone to the police and has not received any help, I find that it is objectively unreasonable for the claimant to seek any further protection in this instance and that state protection cannot be seen as being reasonably forthcoming. I, therefore, find the presumption of state protection has been provided with clearing and convincing evidence.

Internal Flight Alternative

[13]     Item 1.8 of Exhibit 3 of page 66 states that an IFA will generally not be available to individual score members of religious minorities and who have a credible risk of being targeted by armed militant groups, given the sustained religiously motivated sectarian violence and the wide geographical reach of such groups. Furthermore, some non state agents of persecution, such as militant groups, reportedly have links to or closely associated with influential actors and the local and central administration, law enforcements, and the judiciary. As a result, these militant groups often operate with impunity and the reach may extend beyond areas not under their immediate control. So, given that the high-profile nature of the claimant’s involvement in the Shia community in Pakistan, along with the objective evidence considering the national reach of the agents of persecution, I find that the claimant has established on a balance of probabilities that he would not be safe throughout Pakistan, even if he were to relocate. The first prong of the internal flight alternative analysis fails and therefore, an internal flight alternative is not available to this claimant.

[14]     So, in conclusion, I find on a balance of probabilities that the claimant would face a serious possibility of persecution if returned to Pakistan on account of his religious profile and based on this evidence, I accept his claim pursuant to section 96 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and I find that he is a Convention refugee. Sir your claim is accepted.

——— REASONS CONCLUDED ———

Categories
All Countries India

2022 RLLR 55

Citation: 2022 RLLR 55
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: June 21, 2022
Panel: Carolyn Adolph
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Harjot Singh
Country: India
RPD Number: TC2-05981
Associated RPD Number(s): N/A
ATIP Number: A-2022-01960
ATIP Pages: N/A

DECISION

[1]       MEMBER:  This is a decision for XXXX XXXX, file number TC2-05981. I have considered your testimony and the other evidence in the case, and I am ready to render my decision orally.

[2]       You are claiming to be a citizen of the Republic of India and no other country. And you are claiming refugee protection pursuant to sections 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

I ca [sic]

DETERMINATION

[3]       I find that you are a Convention refugee because you face a serious possibility of persecution. And here are my reasons.

ALLEGATIONS

[4]       You allege the following.

[5]       You are a citizen of India. You allege that you are persecuted because of your decision to become a practising member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

[6]       In addition, you say that as a Dalit, you are a person who is subjected to rules that include your inability to choose your own religion. And as a result, you say that members of Indian society at large as well as Hindus, as well as extremist Hindus, including the members of the BJP, as well as the police in your home state of Punjab, all are part about the fabric of your persecution. You say that you fear a risk to your life if you were to return to India. And you say that there is no state protection or a viable internal flight alternative for you in India.

Identity  

[7]       Your personal identity as a citizen of India has been established by your testimony and the supporting documents filed in the exhibits, including the copies of the passport that I found there, which bears your photograph, which you know is unmistakeably you.

[8]       And therefore, I find, on a balance of probabilities, that both personal identity and country of nationality have been established.

Nexus

[9]       I find that there is a link between what you fear and one (1) of the five (5) the Convention grounds, specifically, religion. And further, I find that your claim cannot be properly understood unless we also take into account your membership in a particular social group, Dalits. And so, I find that it is the combination of both of these Convention grounds that represents your risk.

Credibility

[10]     In terms of your general credibility, I have found you to be a highly credible witness. And I, therefore, accept on a balance of probabilities what you have alleged in your oral testimony as well as in your Basis of Claim form.

[11]     Your testimony and the evidence are presumed to be true. And this includes two (2) major things. Number one (1) that you established with me that you are a Jehovah’s Witness through your credible testimony about your beliefs and what drew you to that faith, and why it is that you believe so deeply that your home is there. And the other thing is that you have established through your credible testimony as well as supporting documents that you are a member of a Dalit caste. And so, I accept these things to be true.

[12]     You also told me that your father was taken into police custody and tortured until he later died because of what happened in there. You have testified to me that your brother has been in hiding since 2018 because of the whole concern that the society around you had with your decision to become a Jehovah’s Witness. And you have also established with me through your credible testimony alone that you were physically attacked.

[13]     And so, I also want to point out that there are documents on file to support your allegations, and these include the medical records of your injuries, your documents to support your membership of a scheduled cast via your father. You provided an affidavit concerning the death of your father after having been in police custody. And so, I find all of these things to have been established, and therefore I find that the claimant has established that he fears death at the hands of the police and death at the hands of members of the general public because of his decision as a Dalit to become a Jehovah’s Witness.

[14]     And I find that the claimant has established his subjective fear of returning to India.

Objective Basis

[15]     The BJP was named by the claimant as an organization he fears, including its membership. This party is in its second term as a central government of India. During its tenure, intolerance against non-Hindus has been on the rise. India’s Constitution defines the nation as secular, and it protects freedom of religion or belief, including the right to proselytize, as Jehovah’s Witnesses are called upon to do. This is according to the United States Commission on Religious Freedom 2020 report, at Tab 12.2. However, religious freedom, it reports, is “subject to public order” and this has been used to justify anti-conversion laws.

[16]     The BJP has also challenged the secular principles of the constitution by implementing policies that reflect Hindu nationalist ideology. And its rise in extremist violence is documented at Tab 12.8. The Panel accepts this subjective evidence and finds it establishes a climate of hostility in India generally towards non-Hindus.

[17]     Now, the claimant has established he is a member of the Dalit caste, and the objective evidence at Items 13.2 and 13.4 indicate that caste-based discrimination is prevalent everywhere in India.

[18]     Now, one (1) of these documents talks in-depth about the attraction many Dalits feel toward Christianity, including Jehovah’s Witnesses, because there is generally a climate in which all church members are treated as equals. Now, the claimant testified that he had not even been allowed to fully practise his Hindu faith because he is a Dalit. However, he testified Jehovah’s Witnesses welcomed him with open arms.

[19]     According to these documents, violence against Dalits continues and that Dalits have been victims of violent attacks by vigilante cow protection groups who are Hindus. These incidents have involved killings, mob violence, assaults, and intimidation, and the Panel accepts this subjective evidence and finds that it establishes the following.

[20]     Number one (1), there is a longstanding hostility in the general Indian population toward Dalits, and there is growing hostility in the general Indian population, which is majority Hindu, towards non-Hindus.

[21]     Furthermore, the objective evidence with regard to the police in India is worthy of consideration, as your counsel pointed out. For this, the Panel relies on Tabs 10.8 and 10.10. These establish that the police in India are a law onto their own. They operate with impunity, and they use torture as a way to extract information. The Panel accepts this objective evidence and finds it corroborates the claimant’s allegation that his father was tortured until he died because of the claimant’s decision to follow the Jehovah’s Witness faith.

[22]     The Panel finds that the claimant has established that there is an objective basis for his objective fear of serious harm, including death. And therefore, I find the claimant has a well-founded fear of persecution.

State Protection

[23]     Now, the claimant also established through his credible testimony that police did not assist him when he went to them following an attack he suffered. He testified at that time that the police told him he was a Dalit; he should not be a Jehovah’s Witness.

[24]     The claimant established with his credible testimony as well as documentary evidence found at Exhibit 6 that his father died as a result of what he endured in police custody. He testified that his father was arrested by the police, who told the family they expected that the family would produce the claimant. And the Panel accepts this documentary evidence and testimony and finds the police are among the agents of persecution since they have taken up the cause of trying to get hold of the claimant and punish him for his decision to become a Jehovah’s Witness.

[25]     Therefore, I find in these circumstances, it would be unreasonable for the claimant to seek the protection of the police, which is one (1) of the agents of persecution. And I also find that given the objective evidence concerning the police all over India, the claimant would not receive better service from a police force of the central government or the police force of any other jurisdiction.

Internal Flight Alternative

[26]     It is up to the claimant to establish that there is no viable internal flight alternative for him anywhere in India. And the Panel canvassed him about two (2) locations, New Delhi and also the region of Manipur out to the far east of the country, at the farthest point away from Punjab.

[27]     However, the Panel finds that there is no viable internal flight alternative because the objective evidence establishes that wherever there are Hindus, there are Hindu extremists. And everywhere, therefore, there is a risk to the claimant because as a Jehovah’s Witness, and as he testified, he will continue to be a Jehovah’s Witness.

[28]     The Panel finds the objective evidence establishes, and the Panel takes judicial notice that Jehovah’s Witnesses have a firm obligation to spread the word that they believe in to others. And the claimant has testified the same.

[29]     The Panel finds given the climate of hostility everywhere toward Christians as non-Muslims, and toward Dalits, it is very unlikely that the claimant would be able to find a safe place anywhere in India where he could practise his religion openly and freely.

[30]     The Panel, therefore, finds on a balance of probability that there is no viable internal flight alternative for the claimant. The test fails on the first prong, that of safety.

[31]     In conclusion, based on the totality of the evidence, I find the claimant to be a Convention refugee, as he faces a serious possibility of persecution because of his religion and also because of his membership in a particular social group, Dalits. And therefore, his claim is accepted.

——— REASONS CONCLUDED ———

Categories
All Countries Bangladesh

2022 RLLR 51

Citation: 2022 RLLR 51
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: August 18, 2022
Panel: Richard Long
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Ariel M. Hollander
Country: Bangladesh
RPD Number: TC2-08675
Associated RPD Number(s): TC2-08679, TC2-08682
ATIP Number: A-2022-01960
ATIP Pages: N/A

DECISION

[1]       MEMBER: All right, we are back on the record. These are the reasons for the decision in the claims for refugee protection by XXXX XXXX XXXX, TC2-08675, XXXX XXXX XXXX, TC2-08679, and XXXX XXXX, TC2-08682. You are all claiming to be citizens of Bangladesh and are claiming refugee protection pursuant to sections 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. I have considered your testimony and the other evidence in your case, and I am ready to render my decision orally.

[2]       My determination is I find that you are all Convention refugees who face a serious possibility of persecution in Bangladesh. I note that due to the allegations raised by the associate claimants, I considered and applied Chairperson’s Guideline 4, Gender Considerations in Proceedings Before the Immigration and Refugee Board.

[3]       Your allegations are found in your Basis of Claim forms at Exhibit 2.1, 2.2, and 2.3, and were expanded upon through your testimony today. You allege that you face a serious possibly of persecution in Bangladesh from state and non-state actors due to Mr. XXXX — the principal claimant’s being a publicly vocal atheist who is viewed as anti-Islamic.

[4]       Mr. XXXX, you allege that you are a long-time XXXX and XXXX XXXX user who posts regularly about, among other things, atheism, secular topics, and some criticism of Islam. You spent more than 10 years living outside of Bangladesh in Bermuda and Canada while engaged in these activities, and though you did receive some online threats, you were not particularly concerned. However, on a return to Bangladesh in XXXX 2022, you received a call that your wife and mother-in-law, the associate claimants, had been kidnapped, directly related to your anti-Islamic online activity or your perceived anti-Islamic online activity. The associate claimants were able to escape their captures, however, not before being told that they would be taught a lesson due to Mr. XXXX anti-Islamic or perceived anti-Islamic activity, and both the associate climates were physically and sexually assaulted by their captors prior to their being able to escape. You stayed in hiding at your sister-in-law — the sister of associate claimant and daughter of the other associate claimant, for several days, and then all fled to Canada using your valid Canadian visas and made refugee claims shortly after your arrival. You alleged that there was nowhere you could be safe in Bangladesh and that state protection is not available to you.

[5]       Regarding your identities, I find that your personal and national identities as citizens of Bangladesh were established on a balance of probabilities by your testimony and by the certified copies of your Bangladesh passports on file at Exhibit 1 as well as additional identity documents including the national ID card for XXXX XXXX and birth certificates at Exhibit number 5. I did have some concern about a previous passport in Exhibit 4 for XXXX XXXX that has a different spelling of her name and a different ID number. However, that was discussed in the hearing, and I received a fully plausible and credible explanation that she had had a voter ID card with incorrect information, that was what the passport was based on, and she needed to have the voter ID and the passport corrected to give her the correct spelling of her name, resulting in a changing of the ID card number, which resulted in a new ID card number on the passport, and I find this is credibility explained, and I find you have all established your identities on a balance of probabilities.

[6]       I did also raise an issue of possible exclusion for Mr. XXXX under article 1E of the Convention, as he did live and work for nearly a decade in Bermuda. But, sir, you testified that your status there was only through a work permit taken care of by your employer. I note you held no permanent status there. I find your testimony is supported by the information in the Bermuda National Documentation Package at Exhibit 3.1 — or 3.2, sorry, specifically document 3.1 of that package outlines the strict requirements for attaining permanent resident status in Bermuda, which you would not have met based on your 10 years being there on a work permit. Therefore, I find that you do not hold and have not held status in Bermuda with the rights and obligations of a national and are thus not excluded.

[7]       Regarding nexus for Mr. XXXX, I find there is a nexus by reason of your religion or a lack thereof, atheism, and your imputed religious profile of being anti-Islamic, and for the associate claimants by reason of your membership in a particular social group, particularly being female family members of someone deemed to have anti-Islamic views and who are at risk of gender-related violence. Thus, I find there is a nexus for all three (3) of you to the refugee Convention and assess your claims pursuant to section 96.

[8]       For credibility, I have found you all to be credible witnesses, although I note that the bulk of the testimony did come from Mr. XXXX, as his allegations are the primary one (1)’s in the heart of the claim. I accept what you have alleged in your oral testimony and your Basis of Claim forms. Your testimony was relatively straightforward. There were no material contradictions, omissions, or discrepancies between what you said and the documentary evidence, and you were able to give a detailed testimony when asked. I found you, sir, credible regarding your being an atheist who has made XXXX and XXXX XXXX XXXX promoting secular views critical of Islam. You were able to speak in some detail of your journey to atheism and why you find yourself with this set of beliefs.

[9]       You also provided nearly 50 pages of XXXX XXXX at Exhibit 5. Now, I note that almost none of these postings are translated into English or French, so I cannot give them great weight for the most part for the content or the specifics of their content, however, there are several comments in English which do support your allegation that you were making a commentary that would be viewed as critical of Islam and offensive to conservative Muslims in Bangladesh. You included screenshots of your own account, showing your username as a XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX which you said would be viewed as XXXX by conservative Muslims in Bangladesh. Also, you included posting of XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX, including the XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX and your critical commentary, which was in English, of these figures. And your posts also show that you were engaged in communication publicly with individuals well known as XXXX XXXX and publishers who were later murdered by extremists in Bangladesh for their XXXX and XXXX XXXX. This is supported by the news articles you presented at Exhibit 7, which speaks specifically about these individuals who you were friends with on Facebook being murdered. Therefore, I can assign these documents some weight in establishing that you were engaged in public posting of religiously sensitive material and were engaged in public discussions with a number of individuals whose imputed anti-Islamic views led to their own murders.

[10]     Regarding the attacks on the associate claimants in Bangladesh, your testimony, particularly XXXX, was in line with your Basis of Claim narrative and also the statement provided from the associate — from XXXX (sic)’s — or, sorry, pardon me, XXXX daughter — sister, and XXXX daughter at Exhibit 5, who was herself a witness to parts of this event and corresponds with your testimony and Basis of Claim. I can offer this statement significant weight in establishing that the principal claimant was threatened, that the associate claimants were kidnapped and assaulted in relation to the principal claimant’s perceived anti-Islamic activity. Overall, I find you on a balance of probabilities to have credibly established the central elements of your claims, that the principal claimant is an atheist who vocally and publicly engaged in online postings and discussion that was viewed as critical of Islam, that the associate claimants were kidnapped and assaulted in direct relation to this.

[11]     Regarding subjective fear, you fled Bangladesh for Canada just days after the attack and made your refugee claim within weeks of arrival here. Therefore, I find on the balance of probabilities that your subjective fear has been established.

[12]     Regarding objective support for your allegations, I turn to the National Documentation Package for Bangladesh at Exhibit 3.1 as well as the country disclosure submitted by you and your Counsel at Exhibit 7. I look at document 12.2 of the National Documentation Package which indicates that Bangladesh is majority a Sunni Muslim country. Bangladesh does have secularism as a fundamental principle, however, according to article 2(a) of the Constitution, indicates that state religion of Bangladesh is Islam. The document further indicates that in 2016, alleged Islamic state affiliates in Bangladesh conducted a series of attacks against individuals within religious minority communities, including XXXX XXXX and activists — online activists, which is what you allege you were viewed as, Mr. XXXX. Document 12.8, a United Kingdom Home Office Report indicates that — again, discusses the recent murders of XXXX XXXX and others deemed to be criticizing Islam in the online sphere, and it indicates that while the government did condemn these threats and acts of violence committed in the name of religion, government representatives have also publicly admonished online activists who have expressed critical views on religion, Islam in particular, and have indicated that limits should not be crossed in criticism of religion. In addition to official sanctions, individuals who have publicly criticized Islam had faced significant societal pressure in the form of threats and violence from Islamist militant organizations.

[13]     Mr. XXXX, you indicated that you believed that your threat — those who threatened you may have been connected to the XXXX XXXX XXXX. Document 1.5 discusses this organization and says that they XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX, threatening the lives of XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX, who they termed apostates and enemies of Islam. And again, it is also well documented in your articles at Exhibit 7 of the murders of the XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX. According to document 1.17, the Australia Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Report, religion is central to Bangladeshi Culture and professed atheism is extremely rare. Islamic organizations regularly use the term atheist against individuals who criticize Islam, and the government has periodically used blasphemy laws against such individuals such as yourself, Mr. XXXX, and accused them of blasphemy or defamation of religion, and are — those who do so are likely to face legal sanction, which may even include imprisonment, which you, Mr. XXXX, declared that you have personally feared.

[14]     For the associate claimants, document 1.5, the European Asylum Support Office Report indicates that rape, sexual harassment, and other gender-based violence is common in Bangladesh and that there are reports that sexual assault and rape has been used in politically motivated violence, which appears to be the case here. Based on the evidence before me, I find that your fear of harm does have an objective basis, and along with your established subjective fear that you all have a well-founded fear of persecution in Bangladesh.

[15]     Turning to state protection, there is a presumption of — that states are capable of protecting their own citizens, but that presumption can be rebutted with clear and convincing evidence of the unwillingness or inability of a state to protect a claimant. In your case, you declare that you did not go to police after the abduction and threats, as you fear that you yourself could be arrested, Mr. XXXX, for your vocal online atheism and criticism of Islam, which is supported by the objective evidence I just discussed, and feared for the associate claimants, as female assault victims are often mistreated by police, this is also supported in the National Documentation Package at document 1.17, and the UK Home Office Report at document 5.15 indicates that women face barriers to getting police help due to a prevailing culture of impunity and lack of government commitment for sexual assault survivors.

[16]     Furthermore, the Australia Report at 1.17 reports that public distrusted in police and security services in Bangladesh is widespread, and many Bangladeshis do not approach police for help. Human rights organizations have expressed concern over persistent use of excessive force by police and that most Bangladeshis do avoid any engagement with police. So, I find on a balance of probabilities that adequate state protection would not be forthcoming to you and you have rebutted the presumption of state protection in this case.

Internal Flight Alternative

[17]     Sir, Mr. XXXX, you have established that you are a vocal atheist and critic of Islam, and I find it would not be reasonable to expect you to keep silent about your religious beliefs, as that would be a violation of your human rights. The country condition documents indicate that the risk of being a vocal atheist and anti-Islamist for most state and non-state actors exists throughout the country, and furthermore, the associate claimants would, on a balance of probabilities, be linked to the principal claimant, as this has already happened within just a month of your return to Bangladesh in 2021. So, I find that they too, on a balance of probabilities, would be at risk throughout the country.

[18]     Therefore, I find that there is no viable internal flight alternatives for you anywhere in Bangladesh.

[19]     For the aforementioned reasons, I conclude that you all three (3) claimants face a serious possibility of persecution in Bangladesh, and I find you are Convention refugees, and your claims are accepted.

[20]     And with that, I will go off the record and close the proceeding.

——— REASONS CONCLUDED ———

Categories
All Countries Pakistan

2022 RLLR 46

Citation: 2022 RLLR 46
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: November 10, 2022
Panel: Ryan Kim
Counsel for the Claimant(s): John W. Grice
Country: Pakistan
RPD Number: TC2-13132
Associated RPD Number(s): N/A
ATIP Number: A-2022-01960
ATIP Pages: N/A

DECISION

[1]       MEMBER: Okay, we are back on the record. The Panel has considered the claimant’s testimony and the evidence in this case and is ready to render its decision orally. No, we cannot do simultaneous interpretation.

[2]       INTERPRETER: I am sorry?

[3]       MEMBER: We cannot do simultaneous interpretation.

[4]       COUNSEL: I think it is clear that Mr. XXXX understands English, so I am ready to waive interpretation altogether. And also, Mister Member, I will be signing off, and I will have Ms. Dobrindt (ph) stay for the — listen to the reasons and take notes.

[5]       MEMBER: Okay. All right. Perfect.

[6]       COUNSEL: Thank you. Take care.

[7]       MEMBER: Thank you so much. And so Mister Claimant, do you confirm that you waive your right to the interpretation of my decision?

[8]       CLAIMANT (without interpreter): Thank you, Mister Member.

[9]       MEMBER: So, that is a yes?

[10]     CLAIMANT (without interpreter): Yes, Mister Member.

[11]     MEMBER: Perfect. Thank you so much. Madam Interpreter, you can just be on standby.

[12]     INTERPRETER: Okay.

[13]     MEMBER: Thank you. Okay, so XXXX XXXX XXXX, the claimant, alleges to be a citizen of Pakistan. He is seeking refugee protection pursuant to sections 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

ALLEGATIONS

[14]     The specifics of the claim are set out in the claimant’s Basis of Claim form. The following is a summary of the claimant’s allegations. The claimant alleges to be a citizen of Pakistan. He fears persecution at the hands of the Sunni extremist organization, Sipah-e-Sahaba, SSP, due to his religion as a Shia Muslim.

DETERMINATION

[15]     Having considered the totality of the evidence, the Panel finds that the claimant is a Convention refugee pursuant to section 96 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act for being a Shia Muslim.

ANALYSIS

Identity

[16]     The claimant’s personal and national identity has been established on a balance of probabilities through the documentation filed, namely, his Pakistani passport.

Credibility

[17]     In making this determination, the Panel has considered all of the evidence, including the claimant’s testimony, the Basis of Claim form, and all of the documentary evidence entered as exhibits. When a claimant affirms to tell the truth, this creates a presumption of truthfulness, unless there is evidence to the contrary. The claimant provided a cogent testimony relating to his religion as a Shia Muslim, and how he became an active member of his imambargah. He testified that he was a XXXX in Pakistan, and he served as the XXXX XXXX of his imambargah starting in XXXX 2020. The claimant provided a consistent and detailed testimony about receiving threatening phone calls from SSP for his activities in his imambargah, and even though he reported the phone calls to the police, the police did not provide any assistance. The claimant testified in a straightforward manner about moving to Rawalpindi in XXXX 2021, and then to Lahore in XXXX, 2021 due to his fear of SSP, while continuing to receive threatening phone calls from SSP and that they knew of his locations that he had moved to in Rawalpindi and Lahore. The claimant provided a consistent testimony about receiving a threatening phone call in XXXX 2021, in which the caller threatened him to pay money if he wants to save his life.

[18]     The claimant’s testimony was generally consistent, detailed, straightforward, and spontaneous. The Panel did not note any contradictions, inconsistencies, or omissions that would go the heart of the claim. Therefore, the Panel finds that the claimant was a credible witness and finds that the claimant has established his religious profile as a Shia Muslim.

[19]     The claimant provided a number of documents in support of his claim, which includes the following. Documents corroborating that he was a XXXX in Pakistan, a letter from the imambargah in Pakistan confirming his membership as a Shia Muslim, and corroborating his allegations relating to his role as the (inaudible) secretary and receiving threats from SSP. A letter from the XXXX XXXX XXXX in Scarborough confirming his membership. An application for case registration, dated XXXX XXXX, 2020, relating to the threatening phone calls he received. A report at the police station in Lahore relating to the threatening phone call he received in XXXX of 2021. A letter from the XXXX XXXX he was employed corroborating his allegations relating to the threats he was receiving from SSP. And affidavits from family and friends corroborating his allegations relating to the threats he was receiving from SSP and moving to Rawalpindi as a result and continuing to receive threats even after moving. In light of the fact that the claimant’s testimony was consistent, and the documents offered in evidence corroborates his allegations, the Panel accords the documents considerable weight. Based on the totality of the evidence in this case, the Panel finds on a balance of probabilities that the claimant has established his profile as Shia Muslim and has established a subjective fear of persecution.

Well-Founded Fear of Persecution

[20]     Country documentary evidence shows that societal violence due to religious intolerance remained a serious problem in Pakistan. Violence, abuse, and social and religious intolerance by militant organizations and other non-state actors, both local and foreign, contributed to a culture of lawlessness. Though as Muslims, Shias are free from certain restrictions affecting other religious groups, Shias are still regarded as apostates by some extremist Sunni groups and individuals. As a result, many face regular hostility from extremists and public calls fro members to be killed. There has been an increase in sectarian violence targeting Shia groups at least since 2012, with attacks primarily targeting ordinary Shia individuals. Though the escalation of violent attacks against Shia in the last decade has occurred alongside a general deterioration in the country’s security context, the specific attacks against Shias are distinct in character and intent to most political killings, armed conflict deaths, and indiscriminate violence against civilians. Bombings carried out by militant and terrorist organizations have targeted social gatherings and crowded Shia areas with near impunity. Armed sectarian groups, including Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Taliban, Pakistan, and the once banned anti-Shia group SSP, which is connected to other organizations banned by the government as extremists, and groups designated as terrorist organizations by the United States and other governments, continue to stage attacks targeting Shia Muslims. Throughout the year, unidentified individuals targeted and killed Shia Muslims in attacks believed to be religious motivated. Human rights activists reported numerous instances of societal violence related to allegations of blasphemy, of efforts by individuals to coerce religious minorities to convert to Islam, and of societal, harassment, discrimination, and threats of violence directed at members of religious minority community. Sunni groups held three (3) large rallies in Karachi in September, in which speakers warned Shia Muslims of dire consequences, including beheadings, if they continue to blaspheme against their Prophet Mohammed’s companions. Police are generally unable to stop attacks when they have occurred and have failed to prevent and investigate in a meaningful way. The claimant has established his profile as a Shia Muslim. Based on the claimant’s personal experiences and the documentary evidence, the Panel finds that his fear of return to Pakistan to have an objective basis. The claimant has established, on a balance of probabilities, a well-founded fear of persecution in Pakistan.

State Protection

[21]     Except in situations where the state is in complete breakdown, states must be presumed capable of protecting their citizens. In this case, the country documents show that the authorities are unable to offer adequate protection as previously discussed. Shias are attacked with impunity, and the state is unable to prevent this in any meaningful way. Accordingly, the Panel finds that state protection is not adequate, and the presumption of state protection is rebutted.

Internal Flight Alternative

[22]     An internal flight alternative arises when claimants who otherwise meet all the elements of the definition of a Convention refugee in their home area of the country nevertheless are neither a Convention refugee nor a person in need of protection because he can live safety elsewhere in that country. Religious intolerance and subsequent societal violence is a widespread and serious problem in Pakistan. Therefore, I find that the claimant faces a serious possibility of persecution throughout the entire country, and there is no viable internal flight alternative for the claimant in Pakistan.

CONCLUSION

[23]     For the foregoing reasons, the Panel finds that the claimant is a Convention refugee under section 96 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada therefore accepts his claim for refugee protection.

——— REASONS CONCLUDED ———

Categories
All Countries Pakistan

2022 RLLR 39

Citation: 2022 RLLR 39
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: October 17, 2022
Panel: Alexandra Kotyk
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Jeffrey Nadler
Country: Pakistan
RPD Number: TC2-21802
Associated RPD Number(s): TC2-21803, TC2-21804, TC2-21805, TC2-21806
ATIP Number: A-2022-01960
ATIP Pages: N/A

DECISION

[1]       MEMBER: So, this is the decision for the following claimants, TC2-21802, XXXX XXXX, TC2-21803, XXXX XXXX XXXX, TC2-21804, XXXX XXXX, TC2-21805, XXXX XXXX, and TC2-21806, XXXX XXXX. You are claiming to be citizens of Pakistan and are seeking refugee protection pursuant to section 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. I have considered your testimony and the other evidence in this case, and I am ready to render my decision orally. Designated representative at the time of this hearing, the claimants XXXX, XXXX, and XXXX were minors. The principal claimant, XXXX, is their father, and so served as the designated representative and confirmed his role at the start of this hearing.

DETERMINATION

[2]       I find that all claimants are Convention refugees on the section 96 nexus grounds of religion, and for the associate minor claimants, as membership in a particular social group as family members of the principal claimant for the following reasons.

ALLEGATIONS

[3]       The allegations are set out in the Basis of Claim forms found at Exhibits 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4, 2.5, and the amendment at Exhibit 5. In summary, the principal claimant’s family has been targeted by the LHA and SSP since his brother made an agreement with the Shia community to use his land. The principal claimant himself was directly targeted after statements he made to a religious leader while he was working in Kuwait, and this led to a fatwa and police report alleging blasphemy being issued against him.

[4]       (inaudible) in the US, the principal claimant testified that the family entered the US on XXXX XXXX, 2020, but did not make refugee claims, as they planned to join his brother at the time who was already in Canada. I accept this explanation and draw no negative conclusion from it, as it relates to the claimant’s subjective fear.

Identity

[5]       Your country of reference and identities as nationals of Pakistan has been established on a balance of probabilities by your testimony and a copy of passports found at Exhibit 1.

Credibility

[6]       The principal claimant, XXXX, provided the majority of the testimony for the hearing as the person who was most directly impacted by the events. I found him to be a credible witness. I noted no omissions or inconsistencies between his oral testimony and the Basis of Claim form and amendment. He was spontaneous and detailed in the answers asked and internally consistent, even when we had one (1) date that was momentarily incorrect, he was quickly able to clarify that date to the satisfaction of myself.

[7]       The principal claimant testified to the origin of the problems with — starting with targeting of his family in 2016, as his brother, XXXX (ph), made an agreement with the Shias in the community to use his land. This led to the brother being targeted by the SSP and LHA, and during an altercation with these people on XXXX XXXX, 2016, his cousin was killed. The principal claimant testified that he himself began to be targeted starting on XXXX XXXX, 2020, when he was at a gathering, which included a religious leader from his hometown. This maulvi was attempting to solicit donations, and when the principal claimant questioned the work that they were doing in the community with this money, he said it was to train people as soldiers to bring back the real spirit of Islam to Pakistan and made negative statements against other religions. When the principal claimant pushed back against these statements and questioned who was behind the plans, this maulvi said that the notable people were two (2) other maulvis in the community, XXXX (ph) and XXXX (ph). And when he mentioned these names, the principal claimant remembered that these were the people who had been behind the issues with his brother and leading to the death of his cousin. And he mentioned this to the people at the gathering. The maulvi who was there said that then when he returned to Pakistan he would tell the community — religious community about this and that they would decide the principal claimant’s fate.

[8]       On XXXX XXXX, 2021, a fatwa was issued against the principal claimant, which was seen in both his hometown and other cities, including Lahore by a family friend. As well, the religious members went to the police and made a false accusation of blasphemy, which will be — this led to a copy of an application being issued by the police, and to the police and members of the LHA and SSP both looking for the principal claimant at his family home as recently as XXXX of this year.

[9]       In support of his testimony, the claimants have provided Exhibits 5, copies of affidavits from the brother in Canada who himself has made a positive refugee claim and been accepted, including his RPD notice at the same exhibit, an affidavit from a brother still in Pakistan who explained what has occurred and why he himself has not been targeted while his brothers have been, a copy of the cousin’s death certificate, a copy of the application to the police, and a copy of the fatwa. I give full weight to these documents as they support the events as alleged, and I have no reason to doubt their genuineness. I find that the claimant’s subjective fear is established by the credible testimony, and I believe what they have alleged on a balance of probabilities.

[10]     I also find that there is an objective basis for what they fear in Pakistan. The National Documentation Package for Pakistan provides objective evidence in various places, but specifically 1.8, which talks about extremist Sunni groups, such as the LHA and SSP, which view Shias as heretics, infidels, and apostates who should be punished by death. Although the claimants themselves are Sunni Muslims, they are being targeted as they are seen to support Shias, which has also led to targeting by these groups. The LHA continue to operate across Pakistan, despite government and military operations attempting to disrupt their activities. Item 7.12 of the NDP says that the LHA has a reputation for being one (1) of the most violent Islamic extremist organizations in Pakistan, with links to Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. And since 2003, it has been on the list of terrorist organizations produced by the Canadian government.

[11]     Therefore, based on this documentary evidence, I find that the claimants all have an objectively well-founded fear of persecution due to their views as someone – views by the extremist groups as people who support Shias, and specifically for the associate and minor claimants, as family members of the principal claimant who has himself been accused of blasphemy and had a fatwa issued against him.

State Protection

[12]     I find that state protection would not be available to any of the claimants should they seek it in Pakistan.

[13]     Information in the National Documentation Package at Items 1.13 and 10.4 confirm that the police force in Pakistan is inept due to operational deficiencies and external influences. Information at Item 1.8 establishes that these extremist organizations have ties to corrupt elements and law enforcement providing them with reach throughout Pakistan, which would likely enable them to locate the family.

[14]     Considering the objective country documentation, as well as their personal circumstances, I find that the claimants have all rebutted the presumption of state protection, and adequate state protection would not be available to them in Pakistan.

Internal Flight Alternative

[15]     I have also considered whether there was a viable internal flight alternative for them in Pakistan. Item 7.9 and 7.10 of the National Documentation Package discuss how the police and government in Pakistan work together with extremist organizations. And Item 9.12 show the police depend on fatwa’s when applying blasphemy charges, which has likely occurred in this case. Additionally, the principal claimant has credibly testified to the fatwa that was issued being seen across Pakistan, indicating that he would be sought in other parts of the country.

[16]     Based on the testimony and the claimants’ specific circumstances, I find that on a balance of probabilities all claimants’ lives would be at risk throughout Pakistan, and they do not have a viable internal flight alternative.

CONCLUSION

[17]     Based on the totality of the evidence, I find that all claimants have established a serious possibility of persecution on the nexus ground of religion, and for the associate and minor claimants, as membership in a particular social group as family members of the principal claimant. I find you all to be Convention refugees, and I accept your claims.

——— REASONS CONCLUDED ———

Categories
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

DECISION

[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.

DETERMINATION

[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.

ALLEGATIONS

[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.

ANALYSIS

Identity

[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.

Nexus

[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.

Credibility

[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.

IFA

[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 —

——— REASONS CONCLUDED ———