Home | Friday 1st October 2010 | Issue 741
On Friday 1st October, an historic ban on squatting in all circumstances comes into force in the Netherlands. All Dutch squatters will be instantly criminalised - in a country where squatting used to be largely legal. The new law, voted for by the right-wing, Christian-dominated Dutch government, makes squatting a crime punishable by up to 2 years and 8 months in prison.
It’s a far cry from the golden age of Dutch squatting in the 70s and 80s, when a table, chair and bed were all you needed to legally set up home in an unoccupied building. At this time there was a vibrant, thriving community of around twenty thousand squatters. Numbers have dwindled substantially since thanks to a series of increasingly repressive measures, including the introduction of ‘anti-squatting’, whereby unoccupied buildings are watched over by enterprises whose job is to prevent squatting, with some remaining space let cheaply to tenants.
Despite some city councils claiming that the new law won’t have too much of an effect on already existing squats, the capital Amsterdam is preparing for a sudden crackdown. The Mayor and police commissioner have promised to waste no time in exercising their new eviction powers. They have announced plans to evict around 200 of Amsterdam’s 300 squats, which house several hundred people, over the coming months.
You can bet it won’t be an easy ride. On Monday (26th) around 300 squatters staged a demonstration in Amsterdam’s Dam Square, setting up a tent camp to highlight the possibility of their impending homelessness, and occupied the building that is the city’s former fire brigade headquarters. More protests are planned, with 1st October set to be the main day of action in Amsterdam, and Nijmegen on the 2nd. Activists and squatters in the Netherlands have issued a call out for people to demonstrate over the coming days.