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South Sudanese civil society groups call to release detained activist

Peter Biar Ajak poses with Bishop Emeritus Paride Taban, on 7 April 2018 (ST Photo)
July 29, 2018 (JUBA) - South Sudanese civil society groups called for the release of Peter Bair Ajak a rights defender known for his criticism for the failure of South Sudanese leadership to achieve peace.

Ajak was arrested on Saturday morning at Juba airport as he was heading to Aweil, for a meeting organized by one of his groups, Red Army Foundation.

The International Youth for Africa (IYA) and the Centre for Peace and Justice (CPJ), called in two separate statements extended to Sudan Tribune for an immediate and unconditional release of the prominent South Sudanese activist saying say the arrest was politically motivated.

"To best of my knowledge Peter is innocent and must be released, should anyone have anything against him that let him go to the police and file a case," said Tito Anthony CPJ’s Executive Director.

Anthony stressed that the Ajak was arrested without a legal order from the court pointing such arrest is a violation of the South Sudanese constitution which ensures freedoms of speech and movement.

For its part, the IYA said it is time for South Sudanese to search genuine peace not a time for arresting for the people who are advocating for peace in the country.

"Arresting individuals who are working for peace in South Sudan will never help us to solve the ongoing crisis in the country," said the youth group.

Akaj is the founding chairman of South Sudan Young Leaders Forum (SSYLF), Red Army Foundation and NxGeneration of SouthSudan group. He recently twitted and re-twitted several messages hostile to the South Sudanese leadership.

"We must stop thinking that the so-called leaders will bring peace to South Sudan. We, the great people of South Sudan, must organize ourselves to bring about the peace we deserve!," he wrote in a recent Twit.

However, the government didn’t issue a statement on his arrest. But sources claiming close to the South Sudanese security apparatus said Ajak is accused of supporting the former army chief of staff Paul Malong who is now a rebel leader.

But his family and friends deny the accusation.

(ST)