Utrecht University calls for the release of GEMMA student Patrick Zaki

Poster in Bologna voor de bevrijding van activist Patrick Zaki © iStockphoto.com/bennymarty
Poster in Bologna for the liberation of human rights activist Patrick Zaki © iStockphoto.com/bennymarty

Prof. Henk Kummeling, Rector of the University of Utrecht, Prof. Keimpe Algra, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, Utrecht University, and Prof. Ted Sanders, Dean of the Graduate School of Humanities, Utrecht University, join the statement of rector Francesco Ubertini, University of Bologna, to immediately release Erasmus Mundus GEMMA-student Patrick Zaki under the COVID-19 law enforcement measures.

Patrick Zaki

Patrick Zaki is a student of the international master's programme for Gender Studies GEMMA, in which Utrecht University also participates. He studied at the University of Bologna, a collaboration partner of Utrecht University. In February Zaki was arrested in Egypt for his human rights activism. Despite many actions in recent months, such as the one in February, he is still in prison. The Egyptian President Abdul Fatah al-Sisi has announced his intention to pardon five hundred and thirty prisoners in connection with the danger of COVID-19 infection. Zaki suffers from asthma and should therefore qualify for this.

Statement Francesco Ubertini

Ubertini published the following statement: "I have learned of the announcement made by the Egyptian President al-Sisi to grant pardon to 530 prisoners in the Covid-19 law enforcement measures. I appeal to the Italian Government, to the European Commission, to the numerous institutions that have adhered to our motion and to all the universities in the world that, like us, have subscribed to the principles of the Magna Carta, to join the Alma Mater and make their voices heard. This is an opportunity to put an end to this terrible and absurd situation and to give Patrick back his life and his studies. I hope to be able to embrace him again soon here in Bologna."

Michael Ignatieff, President and Rector of the Central European University, has since publicly agreed with this statement, as have the other rectors of the GEMMA consortium.

Statement Rosemarie Buikema

Rosemarie Buikema, UU coördinator of GEMMA, writes the following: "Human rights activist and Gender Studies student Patrick Zaki has been living under poor conditions in a prison in Cairo for almost five months now, with no prospect of a fair trial. The Utrecht and international community of Gender Studies students and teachers is very concerned about his fate and calls on the European Commission to keep up the pressure on this case so that Patrick Zaki can regain his freedom, exercise his civil rights, and continue his education."


DUB wrote in February about the protests in Bologna, Granada, and Utrecht. This (Dutch) article contains more information, as well as an international petition that has been signed by over 200.000 people.