(CN) - The 4th Circuit revived the asylum case of a Yemeni man who claimed police imprisoned him for three days, beat him, threatened to kill his brother and kidnapped his uncle because they were members of an ethnic minority group.
Asylum petitioner Ali Harwan Ai Baharon is Hadrami, a member of an ethnic minority group that primarily lives in southern Yemen. Baharon was also active in the Sons of Hadramut, an advocacy group for Hadrami.
He claimed that in April 2004, he and his brother were arrested by Yemeni police and driven to an unmarked building, where they were separated and harshly interrogated based on suspicions that they were trying to secede from Yemen.
Police allegedly beat Baharon with a stick, threw water on him and threatened to make him "disappear" if he didn't confess to secessionist activities.
His brother fared worse, according to Baharon, and was punched, kicked, dragged, hit with a rifle butt and threatened with a pistol. Baharon's brother was allegedly told that if he didn't talk, he would be killed.
The brothers later learned that their uncle had been kidnapped by security forces and had to be hospitalized for severe injuries, including broken bones and blood clots in his chest.
Barahon fled to the United States and applied for asylum, but was denied on the basis that his three-day detention didn't amount to past persecution.
The 4th Circuit in Richmond, Va., reversed.
The immigration judge and the Board of Immigration Appeals "erred by reducing Baharon's treatment to a single, three-day detention, despite crediting his testimony as credible," Judge Roger Gregory wrote.
"Not only did Yemeni police detain and beat Baharon for his work with SOH causing 'excruciating' pain, but they threatened that he would 'disappear' and that they would hurt him again if he continued to associate with SOH."
The three-judge panel rejected the notion that such threats were "idle chatter" and granted Barahon's petition for review.