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(en) European PGA* Conference Newspaper - Autonomous spaces theme

Date Thu, 12 Oct 2006 15:05:26 +0200


Presentation of the "squat from a to z", a french legal and practical support book and team
We made a presentation of the french practical and legal guide (le
squat de A Ã Z). This guide was born at the end of the 90's in the
Parisian autonomous squat scene, and over the years since then has
been revised and updated. What it is is a small photocopyable
booklet which gives basic advice. From now on it will be available
and downloadable from the site squat.net/fr, and soon will be
translated into English as part of the project of collecting legal
information from different European countries. A new version will be
brought out this October, after a work weekend in Les Tanneries. In
addition to making clear certain legal changes, and including some
new practical tips, there is also the desire to have a tone that is less
markedly directed at "autonomous squats", and more open to other
types of squatting that happen for reasons of precarity.

The people who are working on "le squat de A Ã Z" from a variety
of French squats are also trying to gather together legal papers from
the court cases of various French squats, analyses of the situation in
various towns and also contacts of lawyers in order to be able to pass
them on from one place to another. There is also a working list
which you can contact if you want legal and practical advice during
your various squatter wanderings: a-z@squat.net . The working
group is open and you are warmly invited to share your experiences
and join the sweet universe of intersquatter solidarity. Court
judgements and legal papers can be sent to squat a-z c/o Les
Tanneries, 17 boulevard de chicago - 21000 Dijon

We later came across similar structures of solidarity between squats
throughout Europe: Weekly collective squat opening in Amsterdam,
local and national squatter meetings, emergency lists for solidarity
between squats of the area in Barcelona.

We have also considered the possibility of gathering people from
different places to help open squats in towns where the squatter
scene is less active or the repression is stronger.

If you want to know the law, ask an anarchist!..

Squat.net international Legal Guide

Squat.net is an international resource for squatted projects, self
organised spaces and temporary autonomous zones. As part of a
planned re-launch being worked on for the site, we are producing an
international legal resource to provide basic information for people
travelling between projects and actions so they can get informed
before they go, and to provide an international overview of the
contexts we are all acting in.

We have made a basic list of questions that we want to answer for as
many countries as possible and put together as an international
resource, focussing on what the laws are, and, more importantly, on
what tends to happen in practice:

It would be really helpful if you could send us basic answers to these
questions, based on the experiences in your country, as well as
copies of any existing legal guides and resources for your country in
digital format, in as many languages as possible to:

legal [at] squat.net

big thanx!!

Basic Questions:

* What is the legal and practical status of squatting in your country?

* What happens when you are arrested? What is the process How
long they can hold you for What are your rights What you should
and should not do

* What to do if someone you know is arrested?

* What happens if you are stopped by police in the street? ­ do you
have to give ID, passport? Personal searches? What are your rights?

* What is the situation for foreigners? (different treatment for
EC/non EC citizens? Deportations, Special prisons, what are your
rights? How useful are the Embassies? Etc.)

* House searches ­ What to do? What are your rights?

* On the Streets ­ special legal or practical information for demos
and actions

* Anything else you think is particularly important in your country
(e.g. use of anti-terrorist laws, hitch hiking)

* General information about the police (different police forces,
common police tactics etc.)

* Contacts for legal support groups, links to local legal resources

**************************************************************************************

Hello all!

As part of the international legal guide we are putting together for
squat.net, we would also like to develop some kind of international
overview of the attacks and erosion of our political space over the
past decade. We are therefore looking for analyses of legal changes
and strategies of repression of grassroots activism in your city or
country over the past five or ten years. We would like to know:

* Has repression and social control increased in your country over
the past five to ten years? How?

* What new laws have been introduced? e.g. Anti-terrorist
legislation, Civil Laws (housing, labour etc), Public Order
legislation/freedom of assembly (such as the Crinimal Justice Act in
the UK, or the Codigo Penal in Spain)

*How have those laws been applied?

*How has the practice of social control changed?

*How are they using surveillance? e.g.Patiot Act in US, CCTV,
Phone tapping, ID cards and controls etc.

* Who are the main targets of this repression?

* What impact has this had on grassroots political activity and on
society in general?

*Is there anything else you think it is important to know about the
situation in your city/country?

We are also very interested to receive more in depth analyses of
specific aspects of repression in different places. ( e.g. CCTV and ID
cards in the UK // Phone tapping in Holland // repressive
cooperation between different states, such as the ³Operacion
Cervantes² targeting anarchists in Italy, Spain and Greece). And
also international instruments of social control such as Europol and
biometric passport systems.

If you are interested in collaborating in any part of this project, please
contact:

legal [at] squat.net

"The toboggan", squat opening in Dijon...

A banner, Barcelona-style "an empty house is a waste of space"
hung over the Rue Charles Dumont, as people from various
European countries gathered on the pavement, in front of the
barricaded doors and around a breakfast table, waiting for an
eventual visit from the police. Several genial old ladies opened their
windows to us, donating a bag of crisps or some rain clothes, and
cheering the news of a new squat. Being between two conferences,
PGAers in Dijon went to support the opening of a new squat in
Dijon, "le toboggan" (the slide) It comprises two disused bars and
the flats above them, with a garden, near to the city centre. The
living collective wishes to put in place various activities open to all in
the area where they feel, at the moment, very welcome. Until now,
the squat seems to have the feeling that it will stay and that there are
things that need to be done and then continued...

Movie project about squatting in Europe

During the week of debates about the autonomous spaces in Dijon,
we decided to realize à short documentary movie about
squatsaround europe. The movie offers you 10 short interviews of
squatters living in various european countries. They all tell a few
words about their local legal/practical situation, about the state of
their local squat scene and give intimate accounts of great stories of
resistance. Part of the movie should be presented during the
centralised gathering. Copies of the movie should be available by
writing at stamp@poivron.org

When « when the streets are burning » gather in the garden... it
is good there

At the end of august, at Les Tanneries, there was going to be a
meeting about the french movement of spring 2006 at the PGA
conference. About ten people arrived in Dijon finally realising their
hope of meeting other participants of the struggle. People from
Dijon, Grenoble, Lyon, Paris, Rouen, Nancy, Montpellier and
elsewhere crossed the street, went down the garden path and met
them under the fruit trees that would become their meeting point for
the next week. One workshop was born through the collective
questioning of each others local experiences. The principal themes
discussed were general assemblies and occupations, demonstrations
and actions, networks, the sudden ending of the movement and
what has come out of the movement. At first, we talked about our
experiences sharing anecdotes and details that people were unaware
of and glad to hear about. As the days passed, we moved from telling
stories to analysing, using the opportunity of meeting different
people to move beyond just the facts and the particuliar experiences.
We discussed our lives during the struggle remembering our defeats
and (numerous) successes during our actions, on the streets and in
the places we were occupying: occupations of premisees,
experiments of autonomous living in the universities, unauthorized
demonstrations, economic blockades and other radical actions. The
discussions were about the analysis of these defeats and successes to
learn how not to make the same mistakes next time. In particular we
talked about how to take part in the general assemblies, the different
actions to take when confronted by police, the different types of
occupation, how to make the actions more visible and effective and
how to self-organise in occupied places. We also discussed the
reasons for the abrupt end of the movement, the means to have the
movement go on, how to broaden the demands from just the
changing of one law or institution and how to build a more diverse
movement. Through the analysis some questions appeared that we
didn't have sufficient time to talk about, questions of how to break
out of the radical ghetto, the possibilities of creating permanent links
between activists and people from the suburbs (especially after the
riots of november 2005) and about tactics for de-arresting and
prisoner solidarity. We will have future meetings that we hope to be
even more succesfull and productive than the last week has been
because we have discovered that both our politics and lifestyles are
very similar. The outcome of the meetings is three different projects :
a book containing flyers and texts from the movement, a book about
different experiences in different towns and cities and a book
analysing the movement based on the discussions we had, including
a short guide to the practical experiments this spring. These are
ambitious projects but it reflects our will to continue this collective
reflection and establish links that we can use in the future.

* Psycotic Gardening Acquaintences

Some links about anti-CPE uprising:

The CPE, a drop in a lake of rage (Grenoble):
http://infokiosques.net/IMG/pdf/2006_CPE_lake_of_rage_A4-A5_ENG.pdf
http://winnipeg.indymedia.org/item.php?3130S Documents from the
Anti-CPE Uprising in France
http://www.bopsecrets.org/recent/france2006.documents.htm
Reflections on the Uprising in France
http://www.bopsecrets.org/recent/france2006.htm Graffiti from the
Anti-CPE http://www.bopsecrets.org/recent/france2006.graffiti.htm

Autonome: Movement and repression

This are extracts from a series of interviews done during the first
week of meetings at the PGA decentralised conference at The
Tanneries in Dijon. To read the whole article go to:

Greece

There have been some strong uprisings in Greece. On the 17th of
November 1974 students occupied the Politechnical School of
Athens and made a call to people to rise up against the dictatorship.
The left was divided into different groups; Trotskyites, Maoists and
Leninists. The anarchist movement did not exist. Most people in
Greece supported the revolts against the dictatorship except
members of the government and a few people who supported the
dictatorship.

According to official figures, 70 to 80 students were killed when a
military tank entered the Politecnic School in Athens and drove over
some of the students that were occupying it. The students' uprising
was an important factor in the falling of the dictatorship. Since the
events of 1975 every year on the 17th November students all over
Greece take over the streets doing different direct actions and
demonstrations.

In May 2006 the students rose up against the privatisation of
education and against a new law that prohibits free assemblies in
universities. Ninety-five percent of the universities were then taken
over by the students. In Greece student assemblies have been
running for many years and are an official right. The uprising this
year was supported by students' parents, workers and many other
organisations.

Germany

In the nineties the anti-nuclear movement in Germany was very
strong and organised. It was an inspiration to new activists. There
were huge and very effective anti-nuclear demonstrations
throughout Germany.

The protest against transporting nuclear waste uranium in 2001
through Northern Germany was the biggest of the decade. It was like
the Seattle of Germany.

It was 100km South East of Hamburg, four or five villages were
involved. There were many peace camps and every camp had an
IMC station. It was one of the biggest clashes between police and
protesters. There were 10,000 protesters and around 30,000 police
officers. It was the first time that people were writing articles and
reporting on the internet. It was the first time we reconstructed
history. Before that the movement was scattered. It felt wonderful
that IMC was there. I got involved with IMC after that. It lasted for
one week, five hundred activists were arrested, almost everybody
from the autonomous movement.

Holland

The law on squatting in Holland is that if a house is empty for one
year it is legal to squat it. Officially breaking a door or a window is a
crime in Holland but it is a law that is never enforced. There is a new
law in Holland that people have to give their identity when police
ask.

Squatters refuse to show their identity to police as a form of protest.
Depending on how many squatters are together police can charge
them. There are also new laws in the making that prevent people
from occupying empty properties. There is a group of people touring
Holland at the moment protesting against these laws as well as
several squat-related actions. So far there have been many successful
actions. In Utrecht, the caravan was evicted after a few days but the
one in Leiden has been there almost a month. More centralised
actions will follow and decentralised actions are being done evey
week.

Barcelona

At the moment, in Barcelona, the autonomous spaces movement is
diverse. Squatted buildings are divided into living spaces, squatted
buildings for parties and the autonomous spaces centered around
socio-political issues. There are also autonomous spaces created in
rented buildings. The autonomous spaces are used to coordinate
actions, to create and publish pamphlets, newspapers and news
letters, and to provide free internet for people in general.

Sweden

At the moment in the southern suburbs of Stockolm there is an
autonomous space being built in a junk yard with metal containers.
Autonomos groups have been fighting for many years to have a
physical space and the government has not yet been able to offer
them a building.

In 2001 during the EU summit George Bush was in Sweden,
25,OOO people were protesting in the streets. Several ways of
protesting were used, such as street parties and riots. Several
hundred people were arrested, 50 to 60 were sentenced to 2 or 3
years in prison.

Hungary

The Centrum is a mixed group of students, squatters, punks and
anarchists but not everybody in the group squats for political
reasons. The hard core organising members of the group are part of
another group that is openly political and anarchist. One of their
survival strategies is to make good use of the media. In Hungary
squatting is new so people don't have much knowledge of squatting.
They are trying to present a good image of it to get people's support
in case of police repression.

When they do a squat action, they get on the TV evening news, talk
shows, news papers and radio programmes. When they occupy a
house they make sure it is a big house in an important
neighbourhood. They make a big ceremony and because in Hungary
nobody occupies houses, this is big news. In Hungary there is not a
big anarchist scene. There are not big actions, only official NGOs,
and therefore any illegal action catches the media's attention.

United Kingdom

The Collective Everything 4 Everyone, exists in an autonomous
space created in a house next to an old theatre in an area marked for
demolition. The aim of the collective running the space is to take a
stand against capitalism. The space was opened in february 2006. In
the six months they have been in this space they have gone through
strong experiences that have served to create bonds of friendship and
organisational structures for the anticapitalist movement.

At the beginning the struggle was to protect the space against
eviction. They barricaded themselves inside the place and didn't
leave the space alone for a moment. In April they found out that the
eviction have been postponed because of coming elections. They left
the siege and started living in the space and working to make it into a
social centre.

vision of a practical solidarity network between squats and other
autonomous zones

[the lack of upper-case letters is intended]

goals

motivating and inspiring people to participate in autonomous space
activities, by making them more familiar and (kind of) attached to
one (or more) such project(s). this includes considering the
particular facilities, characteristics and ways of life to be experienced
in any given place and of course the cultural context (especially
important in relation of eastern & western europe).

sharing skills and mutual learning by both guests and hosts.

as a new wave of repression hits the european squatting scene, it
becomes more and more important to be familiar with each other's
struggles,and get to know the people and spaces that could be
attacked by the state or landlords.

means

autonomous zone projects (squats, social centres, community farms,
etc.): facilitating a trusted network for people who want to spend a
longer time (possibly a few months) at other projects in order to
learn about each others' local struggles; to help with whatever actual
project that autonomous zone is focusing on, in any given period,
and to become familiar with surroundings that the guest is probably
not used to.

each participating project becomes a starting point for people who
want to travel to another region to visit another project. participating
projects are also encouraged to offer to host people according to their
needs and capacities.

people are only sent to another project when they bear the trust from
the sending side – still this is no guarantee but a kind of
recommendation. agreement between the guests and the hosts
includes some assistance from the sender project: this means, with
this recommendation the hosts can have more confidence in the
guest, and be better prepared to welcome someone who is actually
interested in the issues they work on. (it often happens that no real
connection can be forged because the hosts are overwhelmed by
random visitors, so it all remains on the level of squat tourism.)

for all this to become reality, it would be useful to use one or more of
the already existing solidarity networks between autonomous spaces
(squat.net, conaction.tk, tsolife.org, intersquat france, and more), to
avoid duplicating our efforts. it would be also nice to see how already
existing networks could be interconnected and to strive for a better
coordination.

and on a strictly practical level...

there is a database being created about european squats and
autonomous zones, it should be accessible on squat.net soon. it will
contain information about the a.z.'s themselves, about their needs
for skills, their facilities (i.e. what can be done there) and their
capacity as hosts (how many people, for how long time, when).

there will be a questionnaire that potential guests should fill in. this
could be a flexible 'who are you and wish list' form which can be
changed by each local project, for their own needs (= if you want to
ask extra questions or think that some are not important for you as a
host to know, just change the questions). it could include skills to be
offered, description of motivation, expectations, etc. guests no travel
costs would be covered by either side. try to hitch hike.

participation in the activities of a project is a prerequisite. guests
partake in the shared resources of the project they are hosted at (to
be agreed, but basically it's about covering their needs: food, shelter,
possibly clothing). if someone refuses to participate, they can be just
sent away ( wherever). in this case, the sending side (where they
came from)should be contacted for their feedback. (sometimes it
happens that someone is driven out from one place and starts to
spread rumours that help conflicts to arise. it is always better to talk
about problems overtly than just leaving them.)

it's nice to get some feedback ( in both directions) even during the
stay. this can be a motivating factor for guests who will return to
their home and work on projects inspired by their experiences.

personal motivation for pushing this idea...

we are from eastern europe, hungary, which is not fertile ground
(yet) for alternative ideas. though some people try to live their lives in
a kind of an alternative manner, it's not organized or networked, and
such attempts remain isolated. many of them can't stand this
isolation any longer and just give up or get “normalâ€� again.
seeing examples of how it works in other regions can inspire people
to take the experience back home, and setting up an organized way
for this exchange puts some responsibility on people not to keep it
just for themselves but try to expand it and help others to build up
local solidarity networks (which are hard to imagine in such a hostile
environment without seeing that it can really work or at least having
some contact with those who have already got some experience of
alternatives).

and for westerners, it could be an interesting experience to see what
can be done when there is no movement background for such
activities, when there is no tradition for it and creative experiments
and/or courage are needed to establish something.

what we expect

even if people are not interested in making this idea a europe-wide
effort, we will try to build partnerships with autonomous projects
continent- and possibly world-wide. anyone who is interested in
developing a partnership please get in touch.

ak57 d.i.y. khommunity khlub 1074 budapest, dohà ny u. 57. (ring
128 at the doorbell, then find the basement on the right of the
courtyard) http://ak57.zpok.hu ak57@indymedia.hu sms +36 20 488
8629 (if you come for a visit, please write us 2 weeks before you
arrive. thanks.)

autonomous spaces reportback and concrete proposals

one of the topics in our group was the question on how to strengthen
the political impact of our movement through better networking.
there were several ideas on how to improve mutual exchange
between autonomous spaces. below you will find short paragraphs
describing each of the ideas that have been worked out further.

* squat.net redesign

squat.net is due to be redesigned and is collecting ideas on how to be
of more use for the movement. one of these ideas is it can function
as a database for finding autonomous spaces throughout europe/the
world. in practice this will probably take shape in the form of a map
on the website, where you can see which autonomous spaces are
where. everyone is welcome to send information about the spaces
they are involved in to maxigas@anargeek.net (also hints on
programming these type of applications is welcome ;-) )

another useful function of the database could be simplifying practical
solidarity between spaces. if everyone publishes what they are
looking for or can offer (be it printers, wood, onions or tools), we can
all make better use of our collective resources.

* emergency calls

some people expressed the need of a centralized point for public calls
for action linked with autonomous spaces on an europewide level.
still there is the need for more discussion how to organize it. current
projects are the german based wiki website conaction.tk and the idea
to create an emergency section on squat.net with calls whem people
are needed somewhere for evictions, squat opening, actions,
international solidarity campaigns, money solidarity . the most
practical thing to do could be to link both. the discussion will go on
during the centralized meeting in a workshop.

* long term exchange projects

for strengthening personal motivations to practice solidarity in
emergency, some of us raised the idea of an exchange project
between autonomous spaces (see the article about it), for long term
cooperation. this could also be integrated into the already existing
networks in order to avoid multiple work on connected issues. ideas
for this include a database under squat.net, which could even be an
advanced version of anarchist yellow pages (ayp.subvert.info).
however, this again should be further discussed during the
centralized meeting and further on in working groups.

* legal information project

to support the international movement around autonomous spaces, a
group of people decided to start collecting legal information on
squatting and everything involving a "squatter lifestyle" on a
centralised point. this should offcourse include information about the
laws concerning squatting, but also more general and practical
information regarding issues you might run into on your travels
through europe. (for instance whether it's legal to hitchhike, etc.).
you can find the call for contributions elsewhere in this newspaper.
hopefully the results will soon be findable on http://legal.squat.net

* book project

to continue with the reflection and analysis of our movement some
people initiated a collective-written book project. it should contain
historical aspects as well as present struggles. it's supposed to be
something that brings together the common attitude based on the
common history that binds together squatters all over the world. why
we often feel more related to another squat a thousand kilometers
from our own homes then to our own neighbours. rendering a
picture of the invisible, portraying the untouchable unity for
diversity. so if you have already or like to write nice texts or
interviews to get published send them to writings@squat.net

* european squatters video interviews

a little movie project started out of the decentralized meeting in
dijon. the simple idea was to give voice to squatters from different
countries to talk briefly about the legal situation in the country they
are squatting. squatters also give an overview about the squatter
scene in their place and do a bit of story telling about examples of
resistance. hopefully we can present a raw cut at the end of the
centralized conference. radio activists who might be interested to get
voice records from the interviews, send a mail to edith@puscii.nl .

* selforganization & internal problems of autonomous collectives

When autonomous projects fail it is often not because of repression
from the state, but caused by internal problems. Thats only one
reason to occupy with the theme mentioned above. The other is: if
we want to create another society we should start within our
collectives. In some countries exist handbooks dealing with
discussion methods, ideas how to deal with conflicts, organizing
strategies. In others not.

The idea is to make a list of those handbooks and make it available
on the new squat.net, so it is easier to find those texts. If you know
an activist handbook, collection of group methods or anything
similiar in whatever language, you are invited to add it to:
http://stamp.poivron.org/InternalProblemsInAutonomousSpaces

There is also a plan to edit a comprehensive brochure including the
methods used by collectives, in the following working fields:
economy and allday life, internal communication and
decision-making, spreading info to the "outside", networking, and
issues specialized to urban (squats and social centers) and rural
(communes, community farms) surroundings -- all linked together
in order to create a useful reader for non-linear minds. Working title
is "Feed the Fire", and of course we want to steal a lot from the
guides collected (see above). If you are strongly motivated to work
on this project, please contact public secret agent johnny crash via
riot.boogie(at)gmail.com.ral
(communes, community farms) surroundings -- all linked together
in order to create a useful reader for non-linear minds. Working title
is "Feed the Fire", and of course we want to steal a lot from the
guides collected (see above). If you are strongly motivated to work
on this project, please contact public secret agent johnny crash via
riot.boogie(at)gmail.com.
==========================
* PGA is an antiauthoritarian anticapitalist direct action network
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