Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Italy: Parliament to host Giulio Regeni memorial scholarship campaign

Mada Masr
Italian Parliament to host Giulio Regeni memorial scholarship campaign event

January 19, 2017

Italy’s Parliament has announced it will host an event for the campaign working to establish a scholarship fund in the name of slain researcher Giulio Regeni, which would allow an Egyptian student to study at the United World College (UWC) of the Adriatic to obtain the two-year International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma.

The campaign organizers have told Mada Masr that they will launch their fundraising efforts during the parliamentary event, relying on crowdfunding to supply the necessary money for the 2018 scholarship and a matching funds program through which institutions and corporations can donate money to ensure the scholarship’s continuation.

Regeni, the 28-year-old student whose body was found in a ditch in a Cairo suburb on February 3, 2016 exhibiting signs of torture, studied at UWC-USA in New Mexico.

The idea was suggested by Regeni’s former UWC-USA classmates, Federico Torracchi and Lorenzo Bartolucci, according to the Italian La Repubblica newspaper.

The scholarship fund “sends a message that counters hatred,” Bartolucci told La Repubblica. “Giulio wanted to improve people’s lives. We want to remind people about who he was and what he did before he died.”

Regeni, a Cambridge University doctoral student, was researching labor issues and writing his PhD dissertation on Egypt’s independent trade union movement. He was conducting field research in Egypt through a one-year visiting scholar program at the American University in Cairo. He went missing on January 25, 2016, as he was traveling from his apartment in Cairo’s Dokki neighborhood in the direction of Tahrir Square amid a heavy security presence for the fifth anniversary of the January 25 revolution.

Regeni’s body was found bearing signs of torture, evident from cigarette burns, cuts, bruises and his de-nailed fingers — all hallmarks of Egyptian security forces’ torture practices. However, Egypt’s Interior Ministry has repeatedly denied responsibility for his torture and death and sought to distance themselves from the case, causing strained diplomatic relations between Egypt and Italy.

The initial police investigations to emerge from Egypt claimed that Regeni had died in a traffic accident, despite subsequent autopsy reports, which confirmed he was tortured over a period of several days.

Egypt’s Interior Ministry later claimed security forces had shot and killed five members of a gang that it claimed often stole the identities of foreign nations and with whom Regeni’s personal belongings were allegedly found. However, the family members of the five men strongly denied these claims.

Italian politicians and investigators have persistently urged Egyptian authorities to hand over all evidence concerning the case, and to cooperate more fully on ascertaining details concerning his death.

United World Colleges has played a prominent role in providing Egyptian students with education opportunities for the last 30 years.

*Photo by Riccardo Antimiani, courtesy of CameraPress/Redux

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