19 . 2005
From our recent pursuits of freespaces in Holland, the densest
populated region on the planet, weve gotten the clear feeling
that freespaces are really not desired element. Especially not in
the urban centers like Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Den Haag and Utrecht.
There are increasingly more reports of municipal governments and
owners taking actions to evict.
Holland from outside, there is often the popular misconception that
life must be so much better for freespaces there due (primarily)
to the tolerance and (semi-)legality of squatting. This perception
is reinforced by the clichés of the liberal Dutch society
(see marijuana, red-light districts) which the tourists boards ruthlessly
employ to market the (primarily Amsterdam) urban experience with.
Anyone who has been in Holland longer than a few days, especially
since the shift to the right and collapse of 50 years of red government
in the 2002 elections, knows it just aint so. And perhaps
it never was. But thats a longer story and we dont want
to start a thesis on Dutch neoliberalism.
kraken), the origin of many (but not all) freespaces in Holland,
is currently under fire by the government to be banned all together.
The squatting of properties which are one year or longer empty or
which can be proven to be not in official use is technically permitted
but not a written law. For owners and speculants, this is naturally
not a great thing. On the agenda of the national and municipal governments
is to attract more middle and higher income residents into the city,
sometimes making admendmants even to forbid
lower incomes residency. This has resulted in the privatisation
of social housing and housing corporations demolishing
entire zones of cities, especially those with social housing,
to redevelop their property for the rich. Squatting naturally disturbs
this vision of the city of the future.
Members of the Kraakspreekuur Rotterdam at Freibesetzt: 28 June
- 02 July
There are a
number of activist organisations protesting against this trend such
as SASH (stop
afbraak social huisvesting) in Amsterdam who organized various demos.
Also the action group WOONSTRIJD! have organized actions and demonstrations
across the country in the first weeks of April. The connecting symbol
has been a tent: the last option where a vast number people are
being offered as an alternative place to live.
greater trend are a number of disturbing stories from Dutch freespaces.
The beginning of April has been a hot month in central Utrecht.
Two important squats, the Vismarkt and Dump, have been lost to (apparent)
redevelopment plans of the owners and the Gemeente. Outside the
Dump on the night of April 2, there was a
protest action with burning barricades and paint bombs against
a heavy police presence. April 7,
a 60-person funerary procession went through the center of the
city and passed along the 2 neuralgic points destined for eviction.
The following evening: the April 8 eviction of the Vismarkt, a squat
of 12 years home to 8 people, was authorized by the mayor because
the inhabitants didnt accept the fire safety regulations imposed
in a recent inspection and thereby were considered to be disturbing
the public order. April 14: The Dump, the 2 year home to a
weggeevwinkel/kostnixladen nearby the Utrecht Centraal Station,
was also cleaned
out by the politie special forces.
Ruimte News from Amsterdam. OPEN
WEEK THREATENED SPACES 19-24 April.
is threatened to soon have less freespaces open to the public. Since
all of the spaces taking part in this week are squats threathened
with eviction, we want to invite all, whether you are familiar with
these spaces or not, to come have a look at and enjoy what will
disappear if these spaces are evicted.
of the Vrije Ruimte @ Freibesetzt: 07 July - 10 July
Processions to City Hall
On April 5th, members of the Vereniging Poortgebouw and supporters
marched to City Hall to a Physical Infrastructure commission
meeting to present their 2000 petition signatures against the new
owners redevelopment plans into luxus office spaces. The inhabitants
also took the opportunity to ask the City for their official position
on the 2001 sale of the monumental building which happened behind
the backs of the 20-year renters to a private developer. With the
support of most of the commission members, the Poortgebouw was invited
to return the next week where the responsible councillor, Marco
Rotterdam) would comment. April 12, councillor Pastors made
it clear that he is in favor of a new function for the Poortgebouw
to replace the 25 year (sub)cultural bulwark and home to the 30
person living group. 30 people on the street? His response
was to the tune of shit happens. Rotterdam urban redevelopment
plans which pass over his table result in 1500 people on the street
in the year. Pastors, a profiled supporter of the private market
seizing control of housing, feels that the City has nothing to do
with the fight over the Poortgebouw as the new owner is a private
developer. However, he proposed to write a letter to the former
owner to see what is possible regarding alternative housing for
the inhabitants. May 13, the judge will making a ruling on the next
steps of the legal case between the Vereniging Poortgebouw and the
developers, de Groene Groep.
of the Vereniging Poortgebouw @ Freibesetzt: 01 June - 23 July