Peter Biar Ajak, the first citizen from South Sudan to study at Cambridge, was arrested on July 28th at the Juba airport and detained. Ajak is a Harvard educated economist, a Trinity College, Cambridge University Ph.D. student, an alumnus of the Atlantic Council Millennium Fellowship, a Cambridge Trust scholar. He is a former World Bank economist and currently a senior advisor at the International Growth Centre. A reason for Ajak’s arrest has not, to date, been made public. Additionally, to date, Ajak has not had access to an attorney. Ajak was on his way to attend a youth forum in Aweil and is currently the Chairman of the South Sudan Young Leaders Forum. It is suspected that his arrest may have some connection with his role in that position. CCS has written the President of the Republic of South Sudan requesting that Ajak be charged or release him.
Salva Kiir Mayardit
President of the Republic of South Sudan
Juba, South Sudan
The Committee of Concerned Scientists is an independent organization of scientists, physicians, engineers and scholars devoted to the protection and advancement of human rights and scientific freedom for colleagues all over the world.
We write to express our concern for our colleague Peter Biar Ajak. Ajak is a Harvard-educated economist, a Trinity College, Cambridge University (UK) Ph.D. student and political activist in South Sudan. He is also an alumnus of the Atlantic Council Millennium Fellowship, a Cambridge Trust scholar who is currently studying Politics and International Studies. He is the first person from South Sudan to study at Cambridge, a former World Bank economist, and currently a senior advisor at the International Growth Centre (IGC). He is a well-respected and widely-known scholar.
Ajak has been detained for no publicly stated reason. He was arrested at Juba airport on July 28th, and is being held at NSS Headquarters. We do not know the reason for his arrest, and as of this writing has been denied access to a lawyer.
It appears that his arrest is connected to his role as the Chairman of the South Sudan Young Leaders Forum, as he was arrested on his way to attend such a youth forum in Aweil. International human rights law and standards require that your government respect the rights to freedom of association and expression, and to protect citizens who exercise those rights.
We urge you to either release Peter Biar Ajak or charge him with a recognizable crime. We, also, seek assurances that he will be safe and well-treated, and given access to family, healthcare, and a lawyer of his choosing.
We urge you to review this situation with Peter Ajak and uphold your obligations and respect his human rights. We thank you for your attention to this most important matter and look forward to your response.
Joel L. Lebowitz, Paul H. Plotz, Walter Reich, Eugene M. Chudnovsky, Alexander Greer
Co-Chairs, Committee of Concerned Scientists
Ambassador Garang Diing Akuong,
Embassy of the Republic of South Sudan
1015 31st Street, NW, Suite 300
Washington, DC 20007
Phone: 202 293 7940
Fax: 202 293 7941