Freedom for Peter Biar Ajak

$50,518 of $60,000 goal

Raised by 395 people in 11 months
Created September 16, 2018
Peter Biar Ajak, an inspiring youth advocate for peace, was arrested in South Sudan on July 28.  He remains held at the notorious South Sudanese prison known as the Blue House, and we - his family and friends - are building a campaign to support efforts for his release.  

Peter was one of ‘the Lost Boys of South Sudan.’ Displaced during the war when he was young, Peter lived in refugee camps before being taken to the United States by humanitarian charities.  Once in the US he studied hard, learned English, attended La Salle University, and graduated from the Harvard Kennedy School in 2009 with a Masters in Public Administration - International Development.  

After graduating from Harvard University, Peter worked at the World Bank as an economist and he is nearing completion of his PhD at the University of Cambridge in the UK.   

His inspirational story is now being recognized.  Peter is an Atlantic Council Millennium Fellow and a Desmond Tutu Leadership Fellow.  In June, Peter was awarded the Crans Montana Forum’s New Leader for Tomorrow Award by H. E. Moussa Traoré, former President of Mali.

Peter has always kept his focus on South Sudan and his hope for a peaceful future.  He has dedicated himself to creating opportunities for dialogue among South Sudanese youth, running wrestling tournaments across the country to bring young people together and to celebrate South Sudan's unique culture.  He founded the South Sudan Young Leaders Forum (SSYLF)  bringing together young leaders, both men and women, from across ethnicities and politics to encourage youth throughout the countryside to embrace peaceful dialogue.

Peter has a wife and two young children. We are asking for him to be released and allowed home to his family.

Jared Genser and the team at Perseus Strategies as well as a legal team based in the region have taken on Peter's case pro-bono.  Funds raised from this campaign is to support expenses required to fight for Peter's freedom and support his family during this time of need.

Initial $35,000 budget from Summer 2018:
* $15,000 of travel expenses for international legal team, including Perseus Strategies, traveling to Kenya and South Sudan (expenses include travel, accommodations and local security)
* $10,000 of local legal team support, including travel between Kenya and South Sudan
* $10,000 campaign expenses for grassroots organizing to call attention to Peter's cause and provide family support

Additional $25,000 added in January 2019:
* $10,000 of additional local legal team support, including travel between Kenya and South Sudan
* $15,000 additional campaign expenses for grassroots organizing to call attention to Peter's cause, provide family support, and assist with medical expenses for Peter when he is released


We have setup a structure of friends and family to manage expenses and provide accountability over distribution of funds.  I, Jacob Donnelly, will withdraw donations and distribute them to others helping including legals teams in the US and Kenya, as well as to our campaign coordinator in Belgium.   Funds will initially go to a US account and then be disbursed to reimburse Perseus for its out of pocket expenses as incurred and sent to a Kenyan bank account for local legal and family support.  We will draw from the account monthly and re-balance the budget as appropriate with the ultimate goal of having the support needed to campaign for and bring cause to Peter's release.



Photos courtesy of Catherine Lee


Please read more about news coverage of Peter’s arrest:

Al Jazeera: Amid peace efforts, South Sudan arrests activist Peter Biar Ajak 

Newsweek: U.S. Senators Call For Release of Harvard Activist Detained in South Sudan After Criticizing Government

University of Cambridge Call for Release

Peter's wife Nyathon discussing Peter's detention on the BBC
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South Sudan jails prominent economist over media interviews

By Denis Dumo
Reuters

JUBA (Reuters) - A South Sudanese court sentenced a prominent economist to two years in prison on Tuesday for disturbing the peace because he gave interviews to foreign media after he was arrested on treason charges that were subsequently dropped.

The case of Peter Biar Ajak, a former child refugee who returned to his native South Sudan as an internationally renowned academic, has thrown the spotlight on what rights groups say is repression of dissent in Africa’s youngest country.

Biar fled to the United States as a youth, was educated at Harvard and Cambridge and worked at the World Bank. He became South Sudan country director for the International Growth Centre, part of the London School of Economics.

Biar was arrested in July, 2018 and charged with treason, although a court threw out those charges in April. He had been publicly critical of the way President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar approached peace talks to end the civil war.

Biar’s lawyer said they would appeal his conviction for inciting public violence through speech.

“The decision itself is in conflict with the constitution especially freedom of expression,” he told Reuters. “Peter Biar has been convicted for speaking to VOA (Voice of America) Radio.”

Oil-rich South Sudan became independent from Sudan in 2011 under a peace agreement that ended decades of conflict. But it plunged into civil war in December, 2013 because of a split between Kiir and Machar.

The opposing sides were due to form a unity government on May 12 but the president said it could be delayed by up to a year because there were no funds for disarming and integrating the warring factions.

Writing by Omar Mohammed; editing by Katharine Houreld, editing by Ed Osmond

Link: https://af.reuters.com/article/topNews/idAFKCN1TC1AV-OZATP
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Friends -

Peter's trial ended last week and we're expecting a verdict to be announced on June 11. We'll update the group again once we hear news of the outcome, including thoughts on next steps.

Thank you for your continued support and prayers for both Peter and his family.

Jacob
+ Read More
Friends -

Thank you for your continued support.

A quick update is we learned Peter is scheduled to have his first court hearing this Thursday, March 21.

Given the limited action since his illegal arrest last summer, we take this news as positive. However, we're also told the charges to be discussed on Thursday relate to activities since he's been detained. As of right now, there are still no charges against him for why he's been detained to begin.

Please continue to spread the word on Peter's cause and share this GoFundMe with individuals you believe would be interested in helping support actions for his release and ultimate health and safety.

Thank you,
Jacob
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Friends, thank you for your support. Today (Jan 28) marks the six month anniversary since Peter was arrested. Peter remains in inhumane conditions at the notorious Blue House without formal charges or access to a doctor, a lawyer or his family. Peter’s health is also deteriorating.

Last week his family was granted access to see him for the first time in three months. This was a strong signal forward, but we also learned the arrest is taking a toll on Peter physically and emotionally. We now expect that when Peter is released he'll need intensive medical attention.

Thank you for all the support provided thus far. Of the funds raised to date $20,000 has been disbursed to a combination of Peter's local legal team and his family for support. We know that legal expenses will be more though, and Peter's wife is no longer working, so we ask for your continued generosity.

Even more importantly, we need to raise Peter's public profile with citizens around the world. A Change.org petition has been launched and your own activism of spreading the world will help.

#FreePeterBiar

https://www.change.org/p/freedom-for-peter-biar-ajak
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$50,518 of $60,000 goal

Raised by 395 people in 11 months
Created September 16, 2018
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