United States 1st Circuit Court of Appeals Reports

CHRENG v. ALBERTO, 06-1481 (1st Cir. 12-19-2006) VANNARETH
CHRENG, Petitioner, v . ALBERTO R. Gonz??Les, Attorney
General, Respondent. No. 06-1481. United States Court of
Appeals, First Circuit. December 19, 2006.

On Petition for Review of an Order of the Board of
Immigration Appeals.

Martin J. McNulty on brief for petitioner.

Aixa Maldonado-Qui??ones, Assistant United States Attorney,
and Thomas P. Colantuono, United States Attorney, on brief
for respondent.

Before BOUDIN, Chief Judge, CAMPBELL, Senior Circuit Judge,
and LIPEZ, Circuit Judge.

CAMPBELL, Senior Circuit Judge.

Vannareth Chreng petitions for review of an order by the
Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA” or “Board”) dismissing
his appeal from an immigration judge’s (“IJ”) denial of his
applications for asylum and withholding of removal, and
ordering his removal to Cambodia.[fn1]

I. Background

A Cambodian national, Chreng applied for asylum,
withholding of removal and relief under the CAT, see supra
note 1, on January 15, 2002. On November 19, 2004, he
appeared before an IJ, and a removal hearing was held,
during which he and the government submitted evidence. On
November 19, 2004, the IJ orally announced a decision,
later transcribed, ordering Chreng’s removal to Cambodia.
Chreng appealed to the BIA. On February 21, 2006, the BIA
issued a per curiam order adopting and affirming the
decision of the IJ and dismissing the appeal. The BIA
rejected Chreng’s motion to remand. This petition followed.

II. The Hearing and the IJ’s Decision

A. Evidence Presented

Chreng was the only witness to testify at his removal
hearing. Additionally, he submitted documentary evidence,
including a copy of his I-589 form, certain internet
background information, including a 2004 statement from
Madeleine Albright, newspaper clippings and public
statements from the Sam Rainsy political party, to which he
allegedly belonged. The government’s evidence consisted of
the 2003 Department of State Cambodia conditions report
indicating improved political conditions there.

Chreng told the IJ that he was a 49-year-old male who came
to the United States on January 24, 2001. Married on
November 27, 1986, he left behind his wife and three
children ages 19, 17, and 12. He was born on January 3,
1957 and was thus about 18 years old at the time that Pol
Pot took control of Cambodia. His father and mother, uncle,
and two older brothers were sent to “high Angka,” which he
said meant they had been murdered. In March of 1979, Chreng
joined the Molinaka political party, which opposed Hun Sen,
the Prime Minister of Cambodia and a key leader of the
Cambodian People’s Party. Because of his opposition to Hun
Sen, Chreng said, he was arrested by Vietnamese agents on
December 26, 1979 and sent to prison at Trapeang Thlong for
a period of five years. In March 1988, he was arrested once
again and sent to fight the Khmer Rouge guerillas at the
Thailand border.

Chreng said that his first job was for the United Nations
Transitional Authority in Cambodia (“UNTAC”) from
1991-1993. He was in charge of helping people register to
vote. Chreng monitored voters in order to determine whether
they were true Cambodians. He opposed allowing Vietnamese
immigrants to register to vote in the Cambodian elections
since he believed that letting the Vietnamese vote had
ensured the victory of the Khmer Rouge. Chreng testified
that an individual named Sok May threatened him at this
time because he opposed petitioner’s ideas as to who should
vote. Sok May only threatened but never attacked

Chreng further testified that on January 2, 1991, when he
left the polls to pick up his motorcycle, Sok May told him
that he would be killed if he continued to prevent people
from voting. On cross-examination, Chreng stated that Sok
May had threatened him on November 30, 1991.

In 1991, Chreng became a member of the National United
Front For a Neutral, Peaceful Cooperative and Independent
Cambodia (hereinafter “FUNCINPEC”) political party. His
involvement in the party included assisting in the
recruiting of members, creating flyers and banners, posting
pictures and explaining the party’s principles. Chreng
testified that the party advocated an end to violence,
assistance for Khmer women, finding justice, protecting the
country’s territory, improving immigration laws,
eradicating corruption, and changing laws.

On May 23, 1993, Prince Norodom Ranariddh, President of the
FUNCINPEC, won the Cambodian elections. Petitioner had
spent three months campaigning for FUNCINPEC, including
Sundays and holidays. He initially testified that in May
1993, Sok May had grabbed him by the collar. But when it
was pointed out to Chreng that he had testified previously
that Sok May had threatened him in January of 1991, Chreng
revised his testimony to say that it was two unknown
individuals who had grabbed his collar and punched him
while he stood by his motorcycle. On re-direct, Chreng
testified that this incident took place in May 1993, and
that Sok May was not involved. Chreng told the IJ that he
did not know these two individuals, who were wearing dark
glasses. One grabbed him by the collar and punched him in
the face. Thereafter, Chreng could not see anything. The
other individual grabbed him by the shoulder, threatened
him, and told him to allow Vietnamese to register for the
election, otherwise he would be killed. After that, they
disappeared. While Chreng could not identify them, he
thought that only members of the People’s Party would slap
him in the face.

After the 1993 elections, Chreng worked as a staff member
for the post office at the Ponchentong airport receiving
packages and letters. Ten of his colleagues at work
belonged to Hun Sen’s People’s Party, whereas five belonged
to the FUNCINPEC Party. Chreng testified that he had
problems with the members of the People’s Party because they
would take the customers’ packages and letters.

On July 5 and 6, 1997, while Chreng was still working for
the post office, Hun Sen and his followers conducted a
coup. Hun Sen had ceased to be willing to share power with
Prince Ranariddh. During the coup, Chreng was separated
from his family and went into hiding until the shooting
subsided. He stayed in a water tunnel for two days and then
hid in a jungle when things calmed down. His wife, with
whom the children had been living, remained at their
address given in his I-589 form. Chreng hid for five
months, from July to December 1997, in the Kampong Speu
Province of Cambodia. He did not return to Phnom Penh until
December 1997 because he feared being killed by Hun Sen’s
party, which had tried to kill FUNCINPEC party members.

Upon returning to Phnom Penh, Chreng joined the Sam Rainsy
political party. That party’s goals were to eradicate
corruption, promote freedom and strive towards true
democracy. Although never a candidate for political office
himself, Chreng campaigned for Rainsy and urged people to
vote for him. After the 1997 election, Chreng personally
advised Rainsy on political matters, meeting with Rainsy
every Monday at party headquarters from January 1998 to
2000. On July 26, 1998, Cambodia held a second national
election. For three months prior to the election, Chreng
campaigned every day in Kampon Speu, lifting banners,
posting pictures and promoting the party’s vote among the
people. His campaign activities led to some problems. On
the morning of April 6, 1998, Chreng found an anonymous
letter at the front door of his house telling him to stop
supporting Sam Rainsy’s party or he would be killed.

When Hun Sen won the second election, some people,
including Chreng, protested, claiming that Hun Sen had won
the elections by fraud. On September 8, 1998, around 10,000
dissidents gathered in front of the Wat Boton Temple. The
demonstrators, including petitioner, who held a microphone,
walked in a line toward the Independence Building. Once at
the building, Hun Sen’s soldiers blocked the demonstrators
and impeded them from proceeding forward. Chreng testified
that three soldiers approached him and one hit him on the
left shoulder with a black stick so hard that he fell.
Another soldier snatched the microphone from him, while a
third hit and kicked him. Chreng stated he did not suffer
broken bones, but a wound on his leg became infected.
Chreng did not seek medical attention for his injuries but
rather applied traditional medicine. He claimed that he did
not see a doctor because he would have been killed since
most of them belong to Hun Sen’s party. Chreng stated that
after being kicked, he was also photographed. When the
other demonstrators moved forward, petitioner used the
opportunity to escape and went to a stadium where he rested
until the following day.

On September 9, 1998, the demonstrators moved from the
Independence Building towards the American Embassy where
they appealed for a change in the electoral laws. From
there, they walked towards the Cambodian Parliament, but,
before they reached the Parliament, they again encountered
Hun Sen soldiers with water vehicles blocking their way. As
they tried to move forward, the soldiers shot water at them
in an effort to disperse the crowd. Chreng testified that
some people died and that when he escaped and went home, he
saw that the situation was bad. He was not injured during
the demonstrations. From September 9, 1998 to June 2000, he
was not employed because there was no work for Sam Rainsy
party people. Instead, he survived on his wife’s “merchant”

Chreng testified that in June 2000, members of the Sam
Rainsy party gathered in front of a tomb built in
remembrance of those who had died “For the Cause of
Justice.” During the ceremony, petitioner gave a speech on
why those commemorated had perished and blamed the
adherents of Hun Sen. On his way home, he was
surreptitiously followed, then placed under arrest and
imprisoned for three days. While Chreng was not harmed in
any way when in detention, the police superintendent told
him at the time to stop supporting Sam Rainsy’s party.

On November 23, 2000, according to Chreng, Hun Sen was
planning a coup in front of the Department of Defense in
order to get rid of the Sam Rainsy party. On the following
day, Chreng attended a party meeting at the Cambodian
Hotel. Suddenly, Chreng’s son ran in to tell him that three
police officers had come to their home to arrest him.
According to his son, the officers had also threatened to
kill his wife if she did not reveal his whereabouts, so his
wife had asked that petitioner not return to the house. At
the end of the day, he hid in the jungle. He testified that
thereafter, his life changed. He believed that spies were
following him everywhere he went. He testified that people
who had been arrested on November 23, 2000 all belonged to
the Sam Rainsy party and that ten of them had been killed,
while approximately 50 innocent people had been imprisoned.
When confronted with his own documentation, which stated
that people arrested were members of the Cambodian freedom
fighters, Chreng responded that Hun Sen fabricated that
story in order to get rid of Sam Rainsy party members.

Chreng came to the United States on January 24, 2001, on a
visitor’s visa he had applied for at the American Embassy.
Although Cambodian officials were said to be looking for
him on November 24, 2000, he was able to get to the Embassy
on November 30, 2000. He also obtained a passport on
November 22, 2000 because he was afraid he would be
imprisoned. Chreng explained that he remained in Cambodia
for so long after November 24, 2000 because he was waiting
for things to calm down, in spite of the fact that he was
hiding. He testified that if he should now return to
Cambodia, he would be killed. In his application, he
alleged that he could no longer live in Cambodia because he
was afraid of Hun Sen’s followers. He also said he was
afraid for his wife and children, not knowing where they

During the hearing, petitioner submitted four public
statements made by the Sam Rainsy party denouncing certain
acts of violence taking place in Cambodia. Statements dated
June and October 2004, respectively, denounced a recent
attempt by two unknown motorcyclists on the life of a
member of the Sam Rainsy Steering Committee and chair of the
council for the province of Oddor Menchley, and a separate
grenade-throwing incident by unknown individuals, in which
an active party member and two of his children were
injured. Chreng also submitted a July 2004 letter from
Madeleine Albright and statements from Senate Majority
Leader Bill Frist condemning statements allegedly made by
Hun Sen that were meant to intimidate the opposition.
Chreng also submitted newspaper articles relating to events
taking place from 1997 to 2001.

The government’s evidence at the hearing consisted of the
State Department’s then most recent (2003) country
conditions report on Cambodia, to which the petitioner made
no objection. According to the report, there had been in
the period of the report no politically motivated
disappearances; no reports of political prisoners; greater
media access for political parties and candidates; a
general governmental respect for the right to associate; an
ability for political parties to conduct their activities
freely without government interference; a decline in
political violence surrounding the July 2003 National
Assembly elections; a smooth transfer of power to newly
elected commune councilors; no government coercion or
prohibition in respect to membership in political
organizations; and a need for all three major political
parties to work together towards a new coalition, as no had
party won the required majority to form a government.

B. IJ’s Decision

On November 19, 2004, the IJ issued an oral decision
denying petitioner any relief. While finding that
petitioner’s testimony about his experiences in Cambodia
was generally credible, the IJ stated he needed to consider
whether the facts, as related by respondent Chreng,
satisfied the elements in the definition of “refugee.” The
first question was “whether or not the events described by
the respondent amount to past persecution.” Although
finding that the petitioner had run into violent or
potentially violent situations in connection with his
political activities, the IJ held that petitioner’s
involvement in the September 8 and 9, 1998 demonstrations
did not show persecution, as the violence was not directed
at him personally for the purpose of changing his political
beliefs or punishing him. Rather, the police were acting to
break up a demonstration and regain public order.

However, Chreng also described being arrested at his home
following a speech in support of his political party and
being detained for three days. In addition, Chreng
described a police search for him for the purpose of
arresting him “for what can only be described as a
political motive based on the information the court has.”
The IJ, therefore, said, “the court is inclined to give the
respondent the benefit of the doubt on the issue of past
persecution and will so find.” The IJ went on to state that
“having found past persecution, that creates only the
presumption of a well-founded fear of future persecution and
the burden has shifted to the Government to show a change
of conditions that would rebut that presumption” (emphasis

The IJ discussed and credited the 2003 Department of State
country conditions report for Cambodia. According to the
IJ, “this Court notes that the situation in Cambodia has
changed significantly, in a political sense, from the
situation that existed when the respondent was involved in
politics four years ago.” The IJ quoted from the report
section on Human Rights Practices for the Year 2003 that
“the government did not coerce or forbid membership in
political organizations. Political parties normally were
able to conduct their activities freely without government
interference. . . .” The IJ also quoted from a later
section of the report describing the 2003 elections in
which, for the first time, local level elections were held
for the purpose of electing commune councilors for 1,621
communes in Cambodia. The IJ noted that the Sam Rainsy
party had won 1,346 seats across those 1,621 communes, and
that while the People’s Party was again victorious, they
were required to share power with the other parties in all
but 148 of those communes. According to the report, the
transfer of power to the newly elected councilors was
smooth. The IJ concluded: “On the basis of this report and
for other reasons, the Court finds that the government has
successfully rebutted the presumption of a well-founded fear
of future persecution.”

While finding the government had successfully rebutted the
presumption, the IJ went on to note that when “arrested and
held by the government for three days in June of 2000 he
[Chreng] was not beaten or tortured and admittedly
encountered `no problems.'” The IJ continued: “Although the
government was looking for him allegedly to arrest him in
November of 2000, there is no way of telling whether he
would have been mistreated in connection with that arrest
or whether the government had any legitimate basis for that
arrest. The respondent did not stick around to find out so
it is not just the report on country conditions that would
support the conclusion that there is not an adequate basis
to find objectively a well-founded fear, but there is also
the fact that respondent, in personal persecution terms,
was not treated in such a way as to suggest he would be
tortured or killed because of his connection to the Sam
Rangsi [sic] Party.”

The IJ then stated, “Having made these findings, the Court
makes the further finding that the respondent [Chreng] has
not met his burden with regard to his eligibility
application for asylum. Accordingly, that application for
asylum is hereby denied.” The IJ went on to state that
since Chreng had failed to meet the more lenient standard
for asylum, it follows that he fails to meet the more
stringent standard for withholding of removal. Regarding
CAT relief, the IJ held that there was no suggestion that
the government of Cambodia would be likely to torture
petitioner should he return to Cambodia.

III. Chreng’s Appeal to the BIA

In his motion of appeal to the BIA, Chreng asserted he had
no objection to the immigration court’s recitation of the
facts but believed that it was unfair for him to have to
show both that he experienced past persecution and also
that present country conditions made it dangerous for him
to return to Cambodia, in light of his individual
circumstances. He also alleged that he had learned of the
importance of present country conditions only after his
testimony, and that if the granting of immigration relief
necessitated such evidence, then he should be entitled to
present the same. The petitioner asked the BIA to remand
the case to the IJ for further testimony regarding country

The BIA expressly adopted and affirmed the decision of the
IJ. It also stated: “The Immigration Judge correctly
concluded that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
successfully rebutted the presumption of future persecution
by demonstrating that country conditions had changed in
Cambodia.” The BIA denied Chreng’s motion to remand stating
that the relevance of the present-day country conditions
“requirement” (sic) was evident from agency regulations. It
noted that Chreng had not presented any prima facie
evidence that country conditions in Cambodia were such that
he would have a well-founded fear of persecution if he
returned to his country of origin.

IV. Discussion

Chreng argues in his petition on appeal that the IJ and the
BIA erred in finding that the government had successfully
rebutted the presumption of a well-founded fear of future
persecution. He contends that the IJ misread the country
conditions report and seeks reversal or remand of the
decision. We begin with the premise that the IJ and BIA did,
in fact, find that Chreng had experienced past persecution,
leading to the rebuttable presumption that he had a
well-founded fear of future persecution were he to return
to Cambodia. This leaves open the question whether there
was substantial evidence to support the IJ’s and the
Board’s further findings that the government had rebutted
this presumption. We believe there was.[fn2]

Determinations denying asylum are reviewed for substantial
evidence. The Board’s decision will be upheld if “supported
by reasonable, substantial, and probative evidence on the
record considered as a whole.” INS v. Elias-Zacarias, 502
U.S. 478, 481 (1992). This standard is deferential: the
Board’s decision must be upheld unless “the record evidence
would compel a reasonable fact finder to make a contrary
determination.” Guzman v. INS, 327 F.3d 11, 15 (1st Cir.
2003) (citing Aguilar-Solis v. INS, 168 F.3d 565, 569 (1st

A petitioner’s well-founded fear presumption can be
rebutted by a showing that conditions in the applicant’s
native country have so changed that he no longer has a
well-founded fear of future persecution. 8 C.F.R. ?
1208.13(b)(1)(i)(A)-(B); see El Moraghy v. Ashcroft, 331
F.3d 195, 203 (1st Cir. 2003). When the conditions in the
country of origin have changed so dramatically as to
undermine the well-foundedness of the fear, the presumption
disappears and the applicant is not entitled to asylum.
Civil v. INS, 140 F.3d 52, 66 (1st Cir. 1998). However,
changes of only a very general nature in country conditions
may not suffice. Quevedo v. Ashcroft, 336 F.3d 39, 44 (1st
Cir. 2003). To rebut the presumption, the changes must be
such as to “have negated the particular applicant’s
well-founded fear of persecution.” Fergiste v. INS, 138
F.3d 14, 19 (1st Cir. 1998). Account must be taken of the
individual’s particularized substantiated fear. See Yatskin
v. INS, 255 F.3d 5, 10 (1st Cir. 2001).

In this case, the government’s rebuttal took the form of
the circumstances presented in the 2003 country conditions
report. While “[t]he advice of the State Department is not
binding,” Gailius v. INS, 147 F.3d 34, 45 (1st Cir. 1998)
(citations and internal quotation marks omitted), State
Department reports are “generally probative of country
conditions.” Palma-Mazariegos v. Gonzales, 428 F.3d 30, 36
(1st Cir. 2005). Evidence in these reports never
“automatically trump[s]” petitioner’s specific evidence,
Waweru v. Gonzales, 437 F.3d 199, 203 (1st Cir. 2006)
(citations and internal quotation marks omitted) (emphasis
in original), and is “open to contradiction,” Zarouite v.
Gonzales, 424 F.3d 60, 63 (1st Cir. 2005). Further, as
already noted, “abstract evidence of generalized changes in
country conditions, without more, cannot rebut a
presumption of a well-founded fear of future persecution.”
Palma-Mazariegos, 428 F.3d at 35. However, where a report
demonstrates fundamental changes in the specific
circumstances that form the basis of a petitioner’s
presumptive fear of future persecution, it “may be
sufficient, in and of it itself,” to rebut that
presumption. Id. at 36. The latter appears to be the case
here, as the IJ and the BIA effectively found.

Chreng’s claim of fear relied on how the People’s Party was
treating members of the opposition. The IJ found that the
country conditions report negated Chreng’s fears of future
illtreatment. Political parties, according to the report,
were now able to conduct their activities with relative
freedom. In particular, the People’s Party was now forced
by the results of recent elections to work in conjunction
with the FUNCINPEC and the Sam Rainsy parties, as each of
the latter had shared to some degree in the victory. The
report stated that the CPP had won 73 seats in the National
Assembly, while the FUNCINPEC party won 26 seats and the
Sam Rainsy party 25 seats. No party won the two-thirds
majority required to form a government. The IJ also took
note of the report’s finding that in 2002, following the
first national commune local-level elections, the CPP had
won the most seats, but the Sam Rainsy party had also won
1,346 seats in 1,621 communes. As a consequence, the CPP
party was required to share power with other parties in all
but 148 of those communes. Moreover, the government was not
forcing its citizens to join any particular party, and
power had been transferred smoothly.

The report also said there had been no politically
motivated disappearances and no reports of political
prisoners. There was greater media access for political
parties and candidates and a general governmental respect
for the right to associate. Political parties, moreover,
were able to conduct their activities freely without
government interference. There had been a decline in
political violence during the July 2003 National Assembly
elections; a smooth transfer of power to newly elected
commune councilors; no government coercion or prohibition
as to membership in political organizations; and a need for
all three major political parties to work together towards a
new coalition, as no party had won the required majority to
form a government. See also Ouk v. Gonzales, 464 F.3d 108,
111 (1st Cir. 2006) (finding no well-founded fear of future
persecution for member of Sam Rainsy party and citing the
2003 Cambodia country conditions report for the fact that
there were no reports of politically motivated
disappearances or of political prisoners); Ang v. Gonzales,
430 F.3d 50, 57 (1st Cir. 2005) (finding no well-founded
fear of future persecution and noting that “[t]he FUNCINPEC
and the CPP are both integral parts of the coalition
government that now rules Cambodia”). We think the
Department of State’s country conditions report provided
substantial evidence to support the IJ’s and BIA’s finding
that the government had rebutted the presumption of future

Once the government rebutted the presumption, the burden
shifted back to petitioner to show the existence of new
sources of possible persecution. In Re N-M-A, 22 I & N Dec.
312, 321 (BIA 1998). Chreng argued to the BIA he did not
know until it was too late that he had to produce any such
further evidence.[fn3] But the need to do so followed from
the same statute and accompanying regulations under which he
sought immigration relief. Under 8 C.F.R. §
208.13(b)(1)(iii)(2005), once the government has rebutted
the presumption, an “applicant may be granted asylum based
on past persecution alone if 1) the applicant has
demonstrated compelling reasons for being unwilling or
unable to return to his country of nationality or last
habitual residence; or 2) the applicant has established
that there is a reasonable possibility that he may suffer
other serious harm on return to that country.”
Hernandez-Barrera v. Ashcroft, 373 F.3d 9, 23 (1st Cir.
2004). Chreng was thus on notice that further evidence
would be needed in the event the IJ determined, as he did,
from the country conditions report that the presumption had
been rebutted.

Chreng argues that a “full reading of the Country reports
on Human Rights Practices for Cambodia (2003) . . . shows
beyond any doubt that Cambodia is still a very imperfect
and troubled society, and that the Appellant is justifiably
frightened to return there.” It is true that the country
report describes ongoing human rights violations and
systematic deficiencies in the political process, but it
also outlined significant and specific improvements in the
political atmosphere, as well as plausible reasons for
believing that violence against members of the Sam Rainsy
Party had lessened. With sufficient evidence of changed
country conditions in the political sphere and no error in
the IJ’s reliance on or interpretation of the country
conditions report, we believe the agency’s denial of asylum
must stand. Asylum is a matter committed in major degree to
the immigration agencies, which are entitled within
reasonably broad parameters to make their assessments,
provided always there is substantial evidentiary support.

This conclusion also disposes of Chreng’s withholding of
removal claim. As noted earlier, that claim places a “more
stringent burden of proof on an alien than does a
counterpart claim for asylum.” Rodriguez-Ramirez v.
Ashcroft, 398 F.3d 120, 123 (1st Cir. 2005). While
eligibility for asylum requires a well-founded fear of
future persecution, withholding of removal requires that
the alien show a clear probability of future persecution.
See Aguilar-Solis, 168 F.3d at 569 n. 3. It follows, then,
that, because the petitioner’s claim for asylum fails, so
too does his counterpart claim for withholding of

The petition for review is denied.

[fn1] Chreng’s further claim for relief under the Convention
1 Against Torture (“CAT”) was also denied; but as he does
not address that claim in this petition for review, it is
waived. See Frazier v. Bailey, 957 F.2d 920, 932 (1st Cir.
1992) (arguments not fully presented in appellate brief are

[fn2] While the IJ’s language, quoted previously in this
opinion, 2 indicates a finding of past persecution, the IJ
went on to say, somewhat murkily, that “in personal
persecution terms,” Chreng may not have been treated so as
to suggest he would be tortured or killed because of his
connection to the Sam Rainsy party. The government seizes
upon this language as undermining the finding of past
persecution, arguing that because Chreng did not appeal
from this language to the BIA, he failed to exhaust
administrative remedies, leaving us without jurisdiction.
But we think that the IJ’s and the BIA’s basic assumptions
— that Chreng was subjected to past persecution so
as to give rise to the presumption of future persecution
— are manifest. Additionally, as we agree with the
IJ and the BIA that the presumption of future persecution
was rebutted, we need not further consider this contention.

[fn3] Chreng does not on appeal refer to the statements he 3
submitted to the IJ from Madeleine Albright and Bill Frist
condemning comments and veiled threats made by Hun Sen in
2004 against the Sam Rainsy Party. These can be said to
cast a shadow on the more optimistic assessment issued in
2003 by the Department of State but, by themselves, were
not enough to establish that Hun Sen and his people were
actually re-engaging in systemic violence against the
adherents of the Sam Rainsy Party. Given the 2003 country
conditions report, we cannot say that a reasonable
factfinder must find that Chreng had a well-founded fear of
future persecution should he be returned home at this time.
That a country’s politics remain volatile, leaving open the
possibility of deterioration and including some measure of
sporadic violence, does not necessarily establish an
alien’s well-founded fear of future persecution should he
be returned to that country. As noted earlier, Chreng did
not take issue with the country conditions report during
the IJ’s hearing. In his appeal to the BIA, Chreng
acknowledged that he had not addressed the issue of future
persecution: “It is patently unfair that the Respondent
must present his asylum case based upon past persecution
without knowing that he must also make the case that country
conditions presently, based upon his individual
circumstances, make it dangerous for him to return to
Cambodia” (emphasis in original).

[fn4] Chreng also argues in his brief on appeal that in some
cases 4 involving past persecution, even if there is little
likelihood of future persecution, asylum may be granted as
a matter of discretion for humanitarian reasons if the
alien has suffered an atrocious form of persecution. Even
assuming arguendo such exceptional circumstances might
exist here, Chreng did not raise this argument before the IJ
or the BIA, and thus it is waived.