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United States: Falun Gong Members Ruled Eligible for Asylum

(Sept. 10, 2008) On August 26, 2008, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that two practitioners of the Falun Gong religion from the People's Republic of China had established a well-founded fear of future persecution, and therefore are entitled to asylum in the United States.

In 2001, Shoufu Zhao and Zhenying Duan, a married couple then living in China, were arrested by police for practicing Falun Gong, detained for four days, beaten, forced to say they would cease practicing their religion, and ordered to report to the police once a week. They continued to secretly practice their religion. Subsequently they lawfully entered the United States, where they applied for asylum. Their applications were denied at the administrative level on a finding that they had failed to show past persecution or a well-founded fear of future persecution. They appealed to the Ninth Circuit.

The Ninth Circuit ruled that the evidence of a government-sponsored campaign against Falun Gong, coupled with past harm and evidence of the government's individual interest in Zhao and Duan, compelled the conclusion that they have a well-founded fear of future persecution, and as a result they are eligible for asylum. (Zhao v. Mukasey, No. 07-75041 (9th Cir. Aug. 26, 2008), available at