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University of Cambridge student Peter Biar Ajak 'arrested in hell'

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Peter Biar Ajak was one of the "Lost Boys" of Sudan, displaced during the civil war.


A student at the University of Cambridge facing the death penalty in South Sudan is being "arbitrarily detained in a modern hell," according to his lawyer.

Ph.D. student Peter Biar Ajak, 35, a critic of his country's regime, has been detained without charge since his arrest at the airport of Juba in July

His lawyer Jared Genser said that this was "in clear violation of his rights under international law."

The government of South Sudan could not be contacted to do comments

Shortly before his arrest, Mr. Ajak tweeted about the "so-called leaders" of South Sudan.

Human rights group Amnesty International is campaigning on your behalf and your situation was highlighted this week in the United States Congress.

Mr. Genser said that his client was one of the "Lost Children" of Sudan, displaced by the country's civil war.

He resettled in the United States, studying at La Salle University of Philadelphia and Harvard University, before moving to the University of Cambridge.

Upon returning to his home country on July 28 to hold a youth forum, he was arrested and taken directly to custody.

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Mr. Ajak is the father of two small children.

Mr. Genser said that his client had asked that the country's current leaders withdraw so that young people can take control and achieve peace.

"This has become a real problem for government in South Sudan, which then decides to attack him for arbitrary arrest and detention because he was being a very effective critic," he said.

On Thursday, Congresswoman Madeleine Dean, who "knew Peter as a brilliant student and leader," while teaching at La Salle University, drew attention to her detention in the United States House of Representatives.

Mr. Genser said that the charges that were being considered by the authorities of South Sudan included treason and terrorism, both of which resulted in death.

"Someone like him needs to be on the front lines fighting for freedom, democracy and human rights, not arbitrarily detained in a modern hell in clear violation of his rights under international law and for crimes he did not commit," he said. Mr. Genser.

Archive of South Sudan facts

  • The East African nation is the youngest in the world, having gained independence in 2011, but was affected by internal conflicts for much of its existence
  • An Amnesty International report 2017-18 found that approximately one third of the population had been displaced by the conflict
  • At the end of 2017, UNICEF estimated that more than 19,000 child soldiers had been used in the country's civil war
  • More than half of the country's population faces severe hunger and insecurity food industry

A spokesperson for the University of Cambridge said: "The university remains deeply concerned about Peter's well-being and his access to legal representation and the violation of his rights in accordance with the constitution of South Sudan, which guarantees the freedom and freedom of all South Sudanese. "

Seif Magango, Amnesty International's regional deputy director for East Africa, said Mr. Ajak's ongoing detention without charge was" absurd "and violated southern Sudan, the constitution itself and international law

"The authorities of South Sudan must release him so that he can rejoin his wife and children who greatly miss him, or accuse him of a crime recognized in international law," he said


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