Friends and colleagues of murdered Cambridge PhD student Giulio Regeni gathered to protest at the Egyptian embassy with campaigners from Amnesty International and the UCU union on 2 February, marking the second anniversary of the discovery of his body.
Giulio’s friend, journalist Laurie Blair spoke at the protest:
Laurence Blair – comments outside Egyptian Embassy, London, February 2nd 2017.
Thank you for joining us today and thank you to Amnesty for hosting this event. Thank you also to those holding similar events today – in Italy, the Middle East, around the United Kingdom, across the Americas, and around the world. And thank you to everyone showing their support online.
I was tempted today to run through the facts of what happened to our friend Giulio Regeni in detail, and today I speak for myself, as a friend. The fact that he was working in Egypt as a legitimate academic researcher. The fact that he disappeared a little over two years ago. The fact that he was found dead two years ago tomorrow by a Cairo roadside, his body broken and battered, missing fingernails and covered in cigarette burns.
The fact that his disappearance came in an ongoing context where thousands of Egyptians have been kidnapped, imprisoned, and murdered by the Sisi regime – as verified by all important human rights organisations. The fact that the Egyptian authorities have consistently tried to obstruct any real investigation – including by murdering a gang of petty thieves and planting evidence on them.
The fact that senior Egyptian officials have admitted to reporters and investigators that a crime of this magnitude must have had the foreknowledge, and the complicity, of the highest levels – even the dictator Sisi himself. The fact that the Sisi regime is ultimately responsible for creating a climate where its security forces murder on orders and at will.
But we all know these facts and these details. They are readily available in print and online. They and even more facts and details doubtless exist on tape, on file, and in the testimony of dozens of regime officials. The only people who choose to ignore them are the Sisi regime – and those in the West who would prefer that we forgot about our friend, Giulio Regeni, and fall silent.
So here is some news for Mr Sisi, his regime, their collaborators in the Embassy here, and the cowards in Western governments who have decided to put business and politics ahead of truth and justice.
We, the friends of Giulio Regeni, will not forget about him. We will not be silent. We will resist any cynical attempt to divide us, because we know who our enemy is. We will stand firm and support each other, knowing that we cannot bring Giulio back to his family, but we can try to prevent the same horror from happening to others.
We will not rest until you, who are ultimately responsible for our friend’s murder, are made to pay for your crimes.
We will not rest until the military regime terrorising the Egyptian people, ruining and destabilising the country, is brought down and put behind bars. Whether it takes years, decades, or a lifetime, we will have justice for Giulio and we will have justice for Egypt.