Binyam Baltti v. Jefferson B. Sessions, III

United States Court of Appeals For the Eighth Circuit ___________________________ No. 16-1037 ___________________________ Binyam Bekele Baltti lllllllllllllllllllllPetitioner v. Jefferson B. Sessions, III, Attorney General of the United States lllllllllllllllllllllRespondent ____________ Petition for Review of an Order of the Board of Immigration Appeals ____________ Submitted: December 19, 2017 Filed: 1 December 19, 2017 [Published] ____________ Before RILEY2 and BEAM, Circuit Judges, and ROSSITER,3 District Judge. ____________ 1 This court filed its opinion on July 10, 2017, and a petition for rehearing was filed on October 6, 2017. The petition for rehearing by the panel is granted and the opinion filed July 10, 2017, is vacated and this opinion is substituted. 2 The Honorable William J. Riley assumed inactive senior status on August 31, 2017, and this opinion is being filed pursuant to Eighth Circuit Rule 47E. 3 The Honorable Robert F. Rossiter, Jr., United States District Judge for the District of Nebraska, sitting by designation. PER CURIAM. A former member of local government in his native Ethiopia, Binyam Bekele Baltti entered the United States in 2009 on a non-immigrant visitor visa after witnessing two government-sponsored massacres. Baltti now petitions for review of the Board of Immigration Appeals’ (BIA) denial of his application for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). We deny Baltti’s petition. I. BACKGROUND In 2009, Baltti entered the United States on a non-immigrant visitor visa. Baltti is a member of the Mejenger tribe of Gambella, a western region of Ethiopia. Baltti’s wife and two children currently reside in the capital city of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa. In 1995, Baltti joined the Gambella Regional Council, the governing body of his region, and was a tribal representative to the national House of Federation, which Baltti describes as “an elected body that represents each region in the federal Ethiopian government.” While Baltti attended a meeting of local leaders in Addis Ababa in 2002, Ethiopian government troops traveled to Gambella and murdered members of the Mejenger tribe and burned down Mejenger villages. According to Baltti, the massacre was retribution for the Mejenger tribe’s opposition to the government’s plan to force the migration of people currently residing in eastern Ethiopia into the Gambella region. -2- Baltti witnessed a second massacre in 2003. Ethiopian National Defense Force troops targeted educated members of another tribe, the Anuak tribe, in Gambella.4 After the massacre, the Ethiopian government collected Gambellan leadership, including Baltti, and detained them in a military camp for three months. According to Baltti, the detainees were prohibited from communicating with anyone or leaving the encampment. At his release, the government instructed Baltti to give only the “official” story regarding the massacre, that the violence was inter-tribal, and the government took no part in the killings. Baltti claims he disregarded the government’s threats and began speaking in opposition to the massacres, but was not punished because his political position protected him from retaliation. In May 2008, Baltti joined a delegation of Gambellan officials on a brief trip to the United States ...

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