Peter Ajak, an economist and political activist, was falsely arrested in July 2018 for treason and detained for eight months after which time the charges were dropped and he was released. He was immediately re-arrested and charged with inciting public violence while in prison for giving an interview to the Voice of America in an effort to quell a prison riot. He was sentenced to two years in prison for that offense. CCS has written the President of the Republic of South Sudan requesting Ajak’s release.
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 are writing to express our concern for our colleague Peter Biar Ajak, a Harvard-educated economist and political activist in South Sudan.
Dr. Ajak is a Trinity College graduate, as well as having obtained his Ph.D. from Cambridge University (UK). He is the first person from South Sudan to study at Cambridge. He was a World Bank economist, and is currently a senior advisor at the International Growth Centre (IGC). In short, he is a well-respected and widely-known scholar.
Dr. Ajak was initially arrested at Juba airport on July 28, 2018. After 8 months of detention he was charged with treason, based solely on statements that were critical of the government. That charge was eventually dropped and he was released. However, in October 2018 while incarcerated on that charge, there was a riot at the “Blue House” prison where he was being held. Dr. Ajak gave a media interview to the Voice of America to discuss conditions in that prison and to describe his efforts to help quell the riot. Based on that interview he was charged with inciting public violence and disturbing the peace. He was convicted and put in prison again.
Four days before Peter Biar Ajak was sentenced, your government ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), under which you are now obligated to respect and protect such basic rights as freedom of expression. Freedom of expression is also guaranteed in the South Sudan Constitution; it is a flagrant violation of human rights and South Sudan law to turn it into a crime, as has been done in this situation. Exercising the right to speak freely is neither treason nor incitement.
We urge you to release him immediately and unconditionally, to allow him to continue his academic pursuits and to speak freely without interference or intimidation.
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 Phillip Jada Natana
Embassy of the Republic of South Sudan
1015 31st Street NW, Suite 300
Washington, DC 20007
Phone: 202 293 7940
Fax: 202 293 7941
Contact form: http://www.southsudanembassyusa.org/contact/