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Rahimzadeh v. Holder

July 26, 2010

CHANGIZ RAHIMZADEH, PETITIONER,
v.
ERIC H. HOLDER JR., ATTORNEY GENERAL, RESPONDENT.



On Petition for Review of an Order of the Board of Immigration Appeals. Agency No. 98-764-810.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Berzon, Circuit Judge

FOR PUBLICATION

OPINION

Argued and Submitted March 9, 2010 -- Seattle, Washington

Before: A. Wallace Tashima, Raymond C. Fisher, and Marsha S. Berzon, Circuit Judges.

Changiz Rahimzadeh (Rahimzadeh) testified that he was persecuted first in Iran by the government on account of his political activity and later in the Netherlands by Muslim extremists on account of his conversion to Christianity. The Immigration Judge (IJ) deemed Rahimzadeh's testimony credible and granted withholding of removal to Iran, but denied asylum from, and withholding of removal to, the Netherlands. The IJ concluded that Rahimzadeh had not suffered past persecution in the Netherlands and that his fear of future persecution was not objectively reasonable, because he did not show that Dutch authorities were unable or unwilling to control his attackers. After the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) affirmed without opinion, Rahimzadeh petitioned this court for review. We deny the petition, for reasons that will duly appear.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Rahimzadeh's Testimony

Rahimzadeh entered the United States on a B-1 visa on September 6, 2006. He applied for withholding of removal to Iran, and asylum from, and withholding of removal to, the Netherlands on November 6, 2007.*fn1 In his removal hearing, Rahimzadeh testified to the abuse he suffered in Iran because of his political leanings and in the Netherlands because of his religious beliefs. The IJ deemed Rahimzadeh's testimony credible, and the BIA did not find otherwise, so "we accept as undisputed the testimony of the applicant." Baballah v. Ashcroft, 367 F.3d 1067, 1073 (9th Cir. 2004) (citation omitted).

Rahimzadeh was born on April 19, 1964 to a Muslim family in Tehran, Iran, where he lived until he turned sixteen. At that time, his family moved to the nearby city of Karaj because of difficulties arising from their pro-monarchy political leanings. Rahimzadeh helped the Mujahedin movement oppose the Islamic Republic, although he never became a Mujahedin member. Police arrested him for involvement with the Mujahedin and sent him to Evin prison, where guards interrogated and tortured him for three to four days using techniques such as beating his feet with cables and contorting his body into positions so he could not breathe. Rahimzadeh was convicted of aiding terrorists and held in prison for approximately three years.

After he was released, police arrested Rahimzadeh twice more for attempting to escape Iran without permission. On the first occasion, they sent him to Evin prison, where he attempted suicide; on the second, they held him for nineteen days. At some point, a doctor in Iran prescribed medication to Rahimzadeh to treat PTSD.

Rahimzadeh later traveled to Turkey and Japan. While in Japan, he converted to Christianity and was baptized. After two years, in 1992, Japanese officials ordered him deported to Iran, but he went to the Netherlands instead and applied for asylum, which was granted in 1996.

While in the Netherlands, Rahimzadeh practiced Christianity, proselytized to Muslims, including a visit to a Dutch mosque, and in 1994 gave a televised interview during which he discussed the torture and abuse he suffered in Iran. In 1999, unidentified people whom Rahimzadeh believed to be Muslims from Morocco came to his home in Amersfoort, put a knife to his throat, blindfolded him, laid him on the floor, read the Koran, and beat his feet with cables, all while complaining of his conversion to Christianity. The invaders threatened to kill him if he reported the incident to the police. After the incident, fearing for his safety, Rahimzadeh went to Canada for three months and to the United States for five, on tourist visas. He then returned to the Netherlands to be with his brother, with whom he feels close. (Both his sister and brother live in the Netherlands and remain Muslims.)

Rahimzadeh again experienced difficulties in the Netherlands in 2005, when he began to receive anonymous threatening calls to his cell phone. He believed the callers to be fanatical Muslims based in the Netherlands. They threatened to kill him because of his religious conversion and warned that they would hurt or kill his sister if he reported the calls to police. Rather than report the calls, Rahimzadeh traveled again to the United States on a tourist visa for two to three months. On his return to the Netherlands the phone calls started ...


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