CAMBRIDGE, England – A vigil was held outside St Mary’s Church yesterday evening to commemorate Giulio Regeni, an Italian PhD student who was kidnapped and brutally murdered in Egypt eight years ago. Regeni was conducting fieldwork for his PhD when he was abducted off the street in Cairo in January 2016. The Justice for Giulio campaign seeks justice against the alleged perpetrators of his murder, the Egyptian National Security Forces.
The vigil drew a crowd of around thirty students, academics, and local activists, including local MP Daniel Zeichner. The event, organized by Cambridge University Amnesty, featured speeches from Zeichner and Anoushka Kale, a representative of the organization. Extracts from a book written by Regeni’s parents about their struggle for justice were also read in both English and Italian.
A poignant moment occurred at 6:41pm when a minute’s silence was held, marking the exact time of Regeni’s last text message – also the last confirmation of his life. In the message, he expressed concerns about the political situation in Egypt, lamenting the return of the dictatorship and the precarious state of affairs in the country.
Regeni’s body was found on February 3, 2016, and an autopsy confirmed that he had been subjected to nine days of torture prior to his death. Despite the Egyptian government’s denial of involvement, the Egyptian National Security Force members are scheduled to stand trial in Rome this year on February 20.
Originally from Italy, Regeni studied at Leeds and then Cambridge (2012-2016) for his Masters in Development Studies and his PhD on independent trade unions. Dr. Glen Ranwala, who taught Regeni, described him as full of potential and ideas. Daniel Zeichner MP praised Cambridge University Amnesty for the event and recounted his attendance at the memorial held at Girton, Regini’s former college, earlier in the day.
Zeichner expressed the widely-held belief that the security forces were involved in Regeni’s death, and mentioned his visit to Brussels to meet Regeni’s parents fairly early on in the campaign. He continues to support the annual vigil in Cambridge and acknowledges the continued struggle for justice.
In the aftermath of this tragedy, family, friends, and activists continue to seek justice and hold vigils in Regeni’s memory. The pursuit of justice for Giulio Regeni remains ongoing, as the memory of his tragic death continues to inspire dedication and support from the community.