Thanks for you to give me a chance to write this rebuttal letter. I am happy to read in your notice that “your testimony was sufficiently detailed, consistent, and plausible. Considering the totality of the circumstances and all relevant factors, your testimony is found credible. ” “The acts you described are cumulatively serious enough to rise to the level of persecution on account of your religion”; “it is reasonable to conclude that the harm you testified to is sufficiently serious to rise to the level of persecution”; “Therefore, you have established that you are a refugee”; “Having established that you experienced past persecution, you are entitled to a presumption that you have a well-founded fear on the same basis”.
But you found that I am not eligible for asylum status because “a preponderance of the evidence establishes that you could avoid future persecution by relocating within your home country”, and “a preponderance of the evidence also establishes that internal relocation is reasonable”, “accordingly the Service would find that you could avoid future persecution by relocating, and it is reasonable for you to do. The presumption of well-founded fear based on your Christian religion has been rebutted”.
I prepare the rebuttal letter focusing on the only issue you raised in the Letter of Notice of Intent to Deny: Relocation.
An applicant who has been found to have established such past persecution shall also be presumed to have a well-founded fear of persecution on the basis of the original claim. That presumption may be rebutted if an asylum officer or immigration judge makes the finding that “the applicant could avoid future persecution by relocating to another part of the applicant's country of nationality or, if stateless, another part of the applicant's country of last habitual residence, and under all the circumstances, it would be reasonable to expect the applicant to do so”.
(8 C.F.R. § 1208.13(b)(1)(i)(B), (b)(1)(ii)).
In proving the above finding, the Service cited Country Conditions reports by United Kingdom and Human Rights Report on China by U.S. Department of State.
(i): State Department Country Report Not Sufficient:
But where past persecution has been established, generalized information from a State Department report on country conditions is not sufficient to rebut the presumption of future persecution. See Molina-Estrada v. INS, 293 F.3d 1089, 1096 (9th Cir. 2002) (Guatemala). “State Department report on country conditions, standing alone, is not sufficient to rebut the presumption of future persecution”See Kamalyan v. Holder, 620 F.3d 1054, 1057 (9th Cir. 2010)
(ii): Specific Country Report on Freedom of Religion:
But in the Country Reports on Human Rights, when discussing the freedom of religion, it refers to another specific country report: “See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report at www.state.gov/religiousfreedomreport/.”
In the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report on China(2017), just on the first page, it describes that “The government continued to exercise control over religion and restrict the activities and personal freedom of religious adherents when the government perceived these as threatening state or Chinese Communist Party (CCP) interests, according to nongovernmental organization (NGO) and international media reports. Only religious groups belonging to one of the five state-sanctioned “patriotic religious associations” (Buddhist, Taoist, Muslim, Catholic, and Protestant) are permitted to register with the government and officially permitted to hold worship services. There continued to be reports the government tortured, physically abused, arrested, detained, sentenced to prison, or harassed adherents of both registered and unregistered religious groups for activities related to their religious beliefs and practices, including members of unregistered Christian churches (also known as “house churches”).” (Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report on China(2017))
(iii): New Evidence Proving Worse Country Conditions and No Better Location in China:
Because the Country Report is not sufficient, attached to this rebuttal letter, I also submitted recent news reports on persecution of Christian in China to prove that the country conditions become worse and worse; the persecution is all over the country and there is no better location in China for me to move and feel safe and free to practice my Christian belief. (See Exhibit 1-10)
3.Persecutor is Chinese Government:
While discussing Government Practices, the report said in summary that “throughout the country, there continued to be reports of deaths in detention of religious adherents as well as reports the government physically abused, detained, arrested, tortured, sentenced to prison, or harassed adherents of both registered and unregistered religious groups for activities related to their religious beliefs and practices. Religious affairs officials and security organs scrutinized and restricted the religious activities of registered and unregistered religious groups, including assembling for religious worship, expressing religious beliefs in public and in private, teaching youth, and publishing religious texts.” Id.
According to the Report, the persecution of unregistered Christian in China happened in the whole country and the persecutor is the government itself.
4.Relocation Not Reasonable:
Where the persecutor is the government, “[i]t has never been thought that there are safe places within a nation”for the applicant to return. Singh v. Moschorak, 53 F.3d 1031, 1034 (9th Cir. 1995). “In cases in which the persecutor is a government or is government-sponsored, or the applicant has established persecution in the past, it shall be presumed that internal relocation would not be reasonable, unless the Service establishes by a preponderance of the evidence that, under all the circumstances, it would be reasonable for the applicant to relocate.” 8 C.F.R. § 1208.13(b)(3)(ii).
5.Misunderstandings in the Letter and My Statement:
But in your letter, in order to prove the relocation is reasonable, you said that “record indicates that you have attended two other Christian churches in the US、、. and your attendance at these new churches have restored you spiritually”. Firstly, it is true I can relocate by attending Christian churches in the US without any fear because the US Constitution protects freedom of religion; and secondly I can restore myself spiritually because the church’s religious activities are totally free but not like the “legal registered church” controlled and monitored by Communist Party which is atheist. Just as the Service said in the letter, “ your fear that if you return to China, you will continue to live under the same threats and you will not be permitted to worship at the Beijing xxxx Church.” I have only two choices: give up my Christian belief for exchange of safety, which I will never consider; or attend the Communist Party’s church which is not true church because the church is not follow my Lord Jesus but Communist Party’s leader Xi Jinping. Recently the officially registered church started to raise the Chinese Natioanl flag, post Communist Party Leader Xi Jinping’s portrait in the church” (See Exhibit 3: China Tells Christians to Replace Images of Jesus with Communist President)