One year since Giulio Regeni’s disappearance, there is still a long way to go
A year onwards: could we do more?
It has been a year since Giulio Regeni, a 28-year-old PhD student from Girton College, disappeared. Regeni, an Italian student reading Politics, was last spotted in Cairo at 8PM on the 25th January, 2016 and his body was discovered on 3rd February 2016 on the Cairo-Alexandria highway.
In the period of just over a week before Regeni’s body was found, the Italian authorities issued a statement revealing that they were “closely following” the student’s case and this culminated with the Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni asking his Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shoukry, to trace the whereabouts of the Italian student.
Shamefully, it took the UK government over a month to respond to Regeni’s murder – he was tortured to death. The UK government’s response was seen as disappointing, mostly because the statement that they were “appalled” by the murder and would offer support to Italy came so late, but also due to the government’s lack of direct involvement.
The government maintained that the investigation was Italy’s responsibility as Regeni was an Italian national and they did not wish to intervene and “complicate their engagement with Egyptian authorities.” But since July there has been hardly any media reporting on Regeni. It is only now, a year after his disappearance, that attention is once again being focussed on his death.
Last February, CUSU called for a “complete and full investigation” into Regeni’s death, a vote which was passed unanimously with 26 in favour. After a letter of protest that had been signed by 4,600 academics all over the world, Cambridge realised that their student body had been quiet on the matter.
A year on, and in reaching the anniversary of Regeni’s last spotted appearance, we are reminded that this is not a matter on which we should be silent. A new intake of students may not even be aware of the tragedy, and thus the danger of wishing to push the boundaries with their studies, or the incomprehensible violence Regeni faced.
On Monday 23rd January, CUSU hosted a meeting with representatives of the Cambridge Amesty group and some of Giulio friends and colleagues. Attention was drawn to upcoming events, showing a refusal to accept the brutality Regeni suffered and draw attention to Human Rights violations still occurring. There is a planned vigil on February 3rd, along with a campaign titled ‘Truth for Giulio’ the following morning. To show solidarity for Regeni’s family and friends, there will be a cycling event which mirrors a tradition in Regeni’s hometown this afternoon.
What is clear, however, is that we are no closer to finding out the full truth about what happened to Giulio Regeni, and Amnesty groups and his friends refuse to stop drawing attention to it until we do.