Cambridge student held without charge in a South Sudan prison

Peter Biar Ajak’s ‘crime’: peaceful activism


Mr Ajak, who completed a PhD in Politics at Trinity College last year, was imprisoned in South Sudan in July. According to Scholars at Risk, this was "in apparent retaliation for his peaceful human rights activism".

Though Ajak has not been formally charged, his legal counsel has reportedly been informed that he is accused of both terrorism and treason. The young man is being held in the 'Blue House' at the headquarters of the National Intelligence and Security Service – a prison allegedly reported to use torture.

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Cambridge University Amnesty International (CUAI) and the African Society CU have led the charge in writing and spreading an open letter to be sent to the UK government, the South Sudanese Embassy in the UK, and the UN High Commission for Human Rights. They are also sharing a petition.

The letter calls for "the appropriate authorities to ensure Mr. Ajak's immediate and unconditional release". It lists his accomplishments, including securing a BA at La Salle University, Masters at Harvard, and PhD at Cambridge. "He is a recipient of the Atlantic Council Millennium Fellowship, Desmond Tutu Leadership Fellowship, and the Crans Montana Forum’s New Leader for Tomorrow Award".

The letter, which is being shared across the University, currently has over 200 individual signatories; a number which is growing quickly. The campaigning societies are also planning a solidarity march on February 1st, starting at 12.30 outside Senate House.

Cover image: licensed by Wikimedia Commons, with CUAI logo