Ninth Circuit ruled Falun Gong members eligible for asylum

On August 26, 2008, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that a Chinese couple were eligible for asylum because they reasonably feared persecution as members of the Falun Gong sect. The couple had come to California in 2001, several months after an incident in which Chinese police had entered their home, arrested them and beaten them during a four-day detention. The couple were released after paying a fine and agreeing not to practice Falun Gong. The Ninth Circuit panel relied on Falun Gong asylum cases it had decided in 2004 and 2006. Judge Stephen Reinhardt wrote: "[they] have already been arrested, detained for four days, physically abused, coerced into signing a promise to refrain from their practice, and ordered to report to the police once a week. [They were] abused to the point that [they] sought medical attention and [were] threatened with death or disappearance." The holding reversed a determination by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) which had found that the petitioners had shown neither past persecution nor a well-founded fear of persecution, as required by a federal statute.



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