The annual congress of the University and College Union (UCU), representing over 110,000 academics and other higher and further education professionals across the UK, has voted overwhelmingly in favour of a motion for a campaign to push for truth for murdered Cambridge PhD student Giulio Regeni and justice for all of Egypt’s disappeared. The motion was proposed by colleagues of Giulio’s from the UCU Cambridge branch and seconded by UCU’s Scotland region. After the resolution was adopted, over 400 delegates took part in a photo action to show their solidarity with Amnesty International’s #TruthforGiulio campaign. The union will now work with Amnesty, other trade unions and the organisers of the Open Letter on Giulio Regeni and Enforced Disappearances in Egypt to build a national campaign. Shane Enright, Amnesty’s Community Organiser for trade unions and workplaces said:
I am delighted that UCU has taken a strong stand in support of the call for Truth for Giulio and I expect many other unions to join the call. We look forward to working with UCU over the coming months to organise a campaign on university campuses, involving our hundreds of Amnesty student groups, aimed at increasing pressure on the British government to take action against enforced disappearances and impunity in Egypt.
The motion follows months of activity in Cambridge, where the local UCU branch has worked with the Cambridge City and University Amnesty groups to build a broad campaign calling for action against enforced disappearances in Egypt and truth for Giulio, who was studying for his PhD at the Centre for Development Studies at the University of Cambridge and vanished while doing fieldwork in Cairo on January 25 this year. His tortured body was found 9 days later.
Around 200 students, academics and local people joined a rally in Cambridge on 22 April, addressed by MP Daniel Zeichner and supported by Cambridge UCU, Cambridge University Student Union, Amnesty, Egypt Solidarity Initiative and local trade unions including the National Union of Journalists. This was followed by a public meeting of 70 people on 20 May with a broad range of speakers including Cambridge UCU’s Dr Waseem Yaqoob. On their strike days last month, Cambridge University and Anglia Ruskin University pickets also joined a photo action in support of the campaign.
UCU also backed a photo action and rally in Bloomsbury on 27 May which was addressed by Sean Wallis of University College London UCU and the union’s national executive. The protest brought 50 people together to show their support for the Truth for Giulio campaign and to illustrate the horrific overcrowding in Egyptian prison cells – the destination of many victims of enforced disappearance – where 48 prisoners are often crammed into an 8 x 5 m space with little access to drinking water or toilets.
The union joins the National Union of Journalists which also recently passed a resolution proposed by the Cambridge branch, calling for a joint campaign with other trade unions and Amnesty over Giulio’s case and enforced disappearances in Egypt. UCU is a long-standing supporter of Egypt Solidarity Initiative and a national affiliate of MENA Solidarity Network, Egypt Solidarity Initiative’s parent organisation.
What you can do:
- Please use the form here if you are interested in helping organise activities for the campaign on your campus in the coming academic year, or if you would like to know about activities in your local area organised jointly by UCU, Amnesty and Egypt Solidarity Initiative