Squatter’s Digest: Grow Heathrow halved, ciao to Asilo

From Freedom News with thanks

I do have a pretty good excuse for being a little late in writing this month’s column, namely being arrested and remanded for a squatting-related offence (of which I am not guilty for the record, as I will be testifying at trial later in the year).

At least I’m not all talk and no walk huh.

Fraguas Lives Again.. Fraguas Revive

A couple of nights in the cells isn’t so bad though – let’s start this round-up with some hard-hitting news from abroad. The Fraguas case in Spain. For those not aware of the situation, since 2013 a group of squatters calling themselves the Association of Rural Repopulation of Sierra Norte, more commonly Fraguas Revive, occupied an abandoned village in Guadalajara near Madrid.

see also.. Fraguas : Occupiers of abandoned village face jail as Appeal Fails ‎  

The intention was to breathe life back into the village that was left empty since the expropriation by the Franco regime, and to provide space for people to imagine and act out utopias of the future through self-organisation and sustainability.

This short vid gives an overview and visuals of the Fraguas project (in Spanish)
Unfortunately the municipal government of Guadalajara came down hard on the group, for daring to carve out their own destinies. Back in 2018 the provincial courts sentenced six of the people involved in the project to approximately 3,000 Euros in fines each, and an 18-month jail sentence, for the crime of usurping land from local authorities without permission.

They immediately took this to the appeal courts, but unfortunately last month the court upheld the decision, and they will now have to serve their sentences.

In addition they refuse to pay the costs of demolishing the buildings they have repaired, although this may also result in an extra nine months incarceration for non-payment. An impressive stance to take, and my non-existent hat goes off to them.

An interesting note is that the government utilised these laws on the basis that the village was now part of the Natural Park, so therefore couldn’t be considered a dwelling, and they were able to screw them with the serious charges rather than the more administrative process that tends to take place for squatting in Spain.

Similarly there are regulations here in the UK about “royal” parks, and police are able to simply remove with force anyone they wish. I have seen this abused by the Met Police to break in, beat up, and evict people squatting an abandoned caretaker’s in north London.

There isn’t too much more to this analysis than just to say it’s funny that where parks and natures are supposed to be there for people to participate in and enjoy, and where the regulations are supposedly there to protect those notions, they are abused at the first opportunity to uphold social order.

Grow Heathrow cut back

Further bad news, which is a running theme in this column as well as the squatting world in general, is that the eviction process of Grow Heathrow has finally begun.

see also .. Urgent support call-out as Grow Heathrow eviction looms

Started almost nine years ago in Sipson village on the outskirts of London, it is land that was supposed to be the site of the proposed new runway for Heathrow airport. Political protest, land reclamation, and communal living have been part of the project as it has evolved over the years.

The plan to evict has been long fought in the courts, and has been muddied by the squatting of a second adjacent plot of land that is owned by a different owner, making the enforcing of any Possession Orders logistically very difficult. However the time has come that the owner of the original site, Imran Malik, wants it back.

About 7.30am Tuesday (the evening standard reports 8:30am, but our local squat networks of course were on the blower much earlier about the situation – remember to sign up to the “NELSN” London phone network on 07575013111) the first High Court Enforcement bailiffs from the National Eviction Team arrived on the scene, and not long after they had gained access to the front half of the site.

During the eviction Grow Heathrow got some unexpected support from local school children.

Our hippy friends took to the tunnels and the tree-houses, with one person locking themselves to the turbine tower, and another going underground into the tunnels with food and water to last several days. Dig little mole, dig!

While the squatter up the tower has since been cut away, squatters from across London are making their way to support the Grow Heathrow crew as they remain in the second-half of the site, planning resistance, and of course the ninth birthday party in just few weekends’ time. See you there.

The call is still out for people to join the resistance, the bailiffs are booked for up to two weeks to carry out the eviction, so anyone from London (or further) who has the time and energy feel free to go and get involved: Grow Heathrow, Vineries Close, West Drayton, UB7 0JH.

Curent situation: February 28th

Freedom spoke to a Grow Heathrow member today who said: “We want people to know we are still on the back lands! We have lost our kitchen, front garden, bike racks, art space and front guest cabin – and we will be rebuilding those on the back part of site over the coming weeks.

“Most houses are on back lands, as is our music space, toilet, shower, fruit trees, bees and forest area, so the resistance is still strong and bailiffs are letting people through to visit the site.”

Asilo evicted

Sticking with evictions, Asilo (the Asylum), longest-standing squat in Torino, Italy, said farewell on February 7th. For almost 25 years it was a hub of radical and local organising. The premise for the break-in was the arrest of six people purported to be involved in explosive attacks against institutions involved in the detention and deportation of migrants.

Disappointing to say the least that the fire brigade helped the police into the building, and then issued a condemnation notice. It’s always nice to think of the fire brigade as an essential and welcome public service, and there’s no need for them to be complicit in such an action. Boo.

Asilo before the eviction

Eccles upbeat

One bit of good news does exist however, in Eccles, Greater Manchester. In November a group of homeless people took over an abandoned NHS building and have turned it into a homeless centre, helping people to keep a roof over their head while seeking the support they need.

They have since been taken to court by the NHS (see above for institutions that needn’t be complicit in upholding state repression), but were almost immediately after granted a stay on the execution of the Possession Order while they appeal. Your author doesn’t know the current state of the appeal, but as at the time of writing they were still occupying the building.

Beyond the urban

A bit disjointed, this month’s letter is perhaps lacking in a cohesive theme, or particular analysis of things squatirical, but it is interesting to look at some of the squats that exist outside of the cities.

Resistance, and organisation, is often different to that which I and others experience in the cities of abundant ephemeral squats. I certainly have found this to be the case, and found it to be eye-opening and valuable when visiting and participating in more rural resistances.

Then there are many cases of indigenous occupations, that somewhat transcend the conventional understanding of the word squat, even if it indeed describes their legal status.

From the water protectors occupying the pipelines at Standing Rock, to the slum villages of South Africa where groups like Abahlali baseMjondolo are organising local and indigenous to fight against evictions, and to Kenya, where villages without ownership are under threat of eviction from government forces at any time.

I won’t offer any attempts at humorous commentary on these situations, they exist in the reality of others’ experiences, but I am seeking to learn more about resistance across the globe, and implore others to do so too.

The world is fucked up, and as capitalism drives people further from feasible housing solutions, squatting, amongst other forms of resistance, becomes more important, if harder to actually live out.

The opportunity to organise ourselves and take charge of our housing, our lives, exists in these spaces. We can’t give them up.

On that note, I’ll be looking to not give up my own squat as we face imminent eviction early next month. Keep your fingers crossed for us all and we’ll see you next time.

Via Freedom News with thanks

Amsterdam: ADM eviction cancelled by United Nations’ Human Rights Committee

On December 27th 2018, civil servants were met by a welcoming committee at the entrance of the ADM terrain. As announced previously by the mayor, they were sent to check if the ADM was empty of its inhabitants. They were not let in and were asked to make a new appointment which they refused.

Here news and statements published by ADM on the 27th:

Eviction of the ADM cancelled by United Nations’ Human Rights Committee (December 26th. 2018)

We received great news that the United Nations will stand up for our rights, yeah!
This is the statement of our wonderful Human Right’s lawyer Electra Leda Koutra:

“Great great news for “free spaces” across the world. Fulfillment and relief (for now). The ADM Amsterdam stays!!! NO EVICTION TO ANY SPACE THAT DOES NOT RESPECT INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS CAN TAKE PLACE.

The Complaint of 60 ADMers has been communicated to the Dutch Government with request for observations that have to be submitted until 26 June 2019. Then we will comment on them.

The Amsterdam Municipality had adopted a superficial “law and order” approach, based on the final decision of the High Court which was ordering their eviction. However, the Municipality obviously disregarded its own obligation, as regional government, under international law to ensure that an eviction is compatible with international standards and showed intolerance to the applicants’ socio-cultural minority status and the need for relocation of the whole community as a whole (unregistered residents and house boat residents too) in “a site better than the current one”.

Not temporarily, but permanently. Taking into account the needs of individuals and the community. Making “consequences’ assessments” which take into account individual circumstances, such as disability of some community members.

With respect to their fundamental rights, their culture, their need for a space allowing enhanced freedom of expression. I am certain that the Municipality’s cynical stance, as also expressed in the Council Meeting of 20/12, contributed to the indication of an interim measure by the UN.

The Dutch Government will also have to answer on the complaint that the space allowed for expression and free thinking is targeted indirectly, in that the “space” for it is either shrinked disproportionately or over-regulated to a degree not allowing such an expression.

This tendency to sacrifice creativity before profit considerations has been decried by many rights movements globally. The stance of the HRC will affect these movements too.

It is interesting to note that the European Court of Human Rights had recently not only rejected the 53 ADMers’ (in that request) claim for urgent protection, but rejected their application… before it was even lodged. Upon inquiry as to how this is possible, it was argued that according to a recent practice of that Court, an interim measure can lead to the rejection of the whole “underlying application” (as it would potentially be submitted in the future!), if the Court believes that the information it holds is sufficient for considering the case.

The different levels of respect and protection afforded by European and UN mechanisms (in equivalent complaints protected in parallel by the ECHR and the ICCPR) are of wider concern and interest.

The communications between the applicants and the ECtHR were sent to the HRC, which obviously considered that the applicants’ protection, on EU jurisdiction, at all levels, has been inadequate.”

This is the letter that was send by the United Nations Human Rights Court:  LETTER ON ACCEPTANCE OF INTERIM MEASURE REQUEST AND COMMUNICATION OF THE APPLICATION


Statement by ADM residents, as it was read out to the press (at 12.00):

“Yesterday our request to stop the eviction of the ADM site has been honored by the United Nations because it is in conflict with international human rights. This statement is in the interest of all the free-spaces and freethinkers of the world.

For more than 4 years we have litigated in Amsterdam and The Hague for our right to a life of our own and our human rights.
This has not been recognized in Amsterdam and the Netherlands until now.
With the appointment of a green left coalition and the new mayor mrs. Halsema, we expected that this would be different.

For this reason, we were forced to appeal to the Human Rights Committee of the United Nations

The answer from the UN’s HCR was sent to the city council this morning by our Greek lawyer Electra Leda Koutra.

The Dutch government is currently considering this new situation. We expect more news about this within a few hours.

Today, the municipality of Amsterdam wants to enter the ADM area with the enforcement department to initiate the eviction of our community.
We strongly advise the municipality of Amsterdam to refrain from this until the UN’s HCR has issued a final judgment on this matter.

Our wish is that the city and state administrators hold their warm Christmas feelings and not come home from a cold FunFair.

The residents of the ADM

Around 14.00 Amsterdam’ city hall released a statement saying that they will ignore the UN-request. The main points are:

– The judge has irrevocably determined that the municipality must enforce the zoning plan. The site is intended for port-related activities. You can not live there.

– That is why the municipality will enforce the law. Step 1 in that process is that civil servants go to the ADM site to take a look at the situation and consult with the squatters.

– According to the Council, the request to the UN committee does not lead to delay or postponement of the enforcement trajectory.

– The request from the ADM residents at the UN is about whether the sludge fields in the north are suitable as alternatives and comply with international standards.

– According to the Council, the site meets these standards: After all, provisions have been made, such as electricity, water and sanitation, and the level site has been raised.

– The Council notes that the offer to families with children has been made to involve a rented home. The GGD (municipal health department) has also provided care to anyone who needs it.

– The Council still has the strong preference for enforcement by civil servants, without police intervention, resulting in a voluntary departure from the squatters.

– If enforcement does not lead to the departure of the squatters, the site will be evicted at a later time.

This ignoring of the United Nations Human Right’s Council request by the municipality of Amsterdam is of course unheard of and very worrisome, especially since The Netherlands is seeking another term at this same council!

Around 16.00 the municipal enforcement team came to the ADM (instead of between 12.00 and 13.00,  which was previously communicated to us) and demanded access to our terrain. We told them that it was perhaps not the right time, especially since we haven’t heard anything back from mayor Femke Halsema about the UN-interim-measure-request


In the evening of this same day (December 27th. 2018) we did send out a press release:


ADM (Amsterdam), December 27, 2018

A new spring for the ADM residents?

This morning our Greek lawyer Electra Leda Koutra sent an urgent request from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) to the Amsterdam city council. The municipality is asked to refrain from vacating the ADM site until a suitable location for residents has been found that meets the international standard for human rights.

The UNHCR has given the municipality 6 months of ‘defense period’. The ADM residents have 6 weeks to complete their extensive objection.

The intended location for ADM residents is the sludge fields of the former water treatment plant in Amsterdam. The municipality has made a number of provisions here that are not sufficient for a suitable relocation of the ADM residents. In addition, there is no solution for the 10 ADM boat occupants, they become homeless.

From a legal point of view, it is true that the ADM site may not be used in accordance with the zoning plan. The Council of State could not therefore decide otherwise to force the municipality to enforce.

On the other hand, according to international human rights protocols, the municipality must ensure at least an equivalent or better location in case of forced departure from a community. With the offer of the sludge fields and no solution for the ADM boats, the municipality remains seriously in default.

Today the municipality wanted to enter the ADM area with the enforcement department to initiate the eviction of our community. The ADM community requested the municipality to refrain from doing so until the UNHCR issued a final judgment on this matter.

The Commission indicated that it did not comply with the request from the largest international institute for the protection of human rights and still sent enforcement to the ADM site. Given the tumultuous developments of the day, the ADM residents did not think it appropriate to lead the enforcers around the terrain on this day.

The residents are open to a conversation with the city council.

Hornweg 6, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Some squats in Amsterdam: https://radar.squat.net/en/groups/city/amsterdam/type/squat
Groups (social centres, collectives, squats) in Amsterdam: https://radar.squat.net/en/groups/city/amsterdam
Events in Amsterdam: https://radar.squat.net/en/events/city/Amsterdam


Anti-money exchange Network Occupies ex Bankia branch

A former branch of Bankia in Lavapies, occupied by social economy projectsla-canica-social-money

The Canica Dispossessed Bank will house the Exchange Network of the same name and the Neighbourhood Solidarity Economy 

translated from  Diagonal by The Free

La Canica is an exchange network established for some time in various neighborhoods, which has  a social currency alternative to the euro and is already promoting, with some success, the formation of cooperatives and collectivization of resources and means of production.super-discount

Now an ex Bankia branch has been occupied as a social center, using the same name La Canica.

This former branch of Bankia in Lavapies (Madrid)  suffered dozens of demonstrations by the Housing Assemblies. In it, from 2012 activists managed to cripple dozens of evictions and force the signing of many social rent contracts. A couple of years later, Bankia decided to close it down. Continue reading “Anti-money exchange Network Occupies ex Bankia branch”

%d bloggers like this: