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(en) France, Dijon, Let's defend the autonomous space "Les Tanneries"*

Date Sun, 08 Apr 2007 18:19:26 +0300


After nearly 10 years of existence, the squatted autonomous space "Les Tanneries" (in Dijon, France) is being threatened by a private medical complex, facilitated by the city council. --- We have just learnt that Dijon's city council had started negociations to sell our occupied social centre and its surroundings to developpers, and we need to act quickly. This is why we have written the following statement, explaining why and how we will struggle for the very existence of our free space. --- After a first protest gathering and an occupation of the city hall meeting in Dijon, as well as a number of support e-mails from around the world, the council has slightly backed up, saying they will consider putting our space aside from the building plans. However, there's no way we can take that for granted; not if we don't maintain pressure, and
prepare to act whenever we face another alert.

To all those you have been supporting us in the last few days, we want
to say: "thanks for the amazing strenght and support you gave us". We
still incite you all to voice your discontent to the municipality, by
letters, telephone or e-mails:

Mairie de Dijon, M. François Rebsamen, Phone: (+33|0)-380-745-151
place de la Libération, E-mail: francois.rebsamen@ville-dijon.fr
21000 Dijon, France.

We need to maintain the pressure, and take the time to create a wider
mobilisation. Thanks again, and be ready!

* * *

Without any public consultation, but with the typical secrecy that
typically accompanies hot topics during electoral periods, the
"socialist" city council of Dijon is making decisions that could lead to
the end of the autonomous space "Les Tanneries", a self-managed
political, social, cultural centre that was squatted in 1997 and since
then has become an important node for anarchist organizing and radical
activism throughout France and Europe. Needless to say, we won't let the
council carry out their plans!

We have known since the beginning that we would have to maintain a
permanent vigilence, despite the no-eviction agreement we obtained from
the council in 2002 after years of fighting. In early March 2007, after
hearing persistant rumours about threatening projects, we got in touch
with the council and asked for explanations. In spite of repeated
queries by mail and telephone, we were denied any answer. Two days ago,
we got the confirmation from a trustworthy but unofficial source, that
the city council had sent a written proposal to the "Générale de Santé",
offering them the whole piece of land where our space is located for the
construction of a 25-acre-wide private medical complex by 2009.

While public healthcare services are being threatened by neo-liberal
privatising strategies in Europe, will the Dijon city council encourage
a "two gear" health system?

Does it want to contribute to the monopoly of Générale de Santé, the
biggest european private health transnational (1.741 billion euros of
profit in 2006, 10% of the transnational being owned by Vivendi) by
offering them land that is close to the city centre, almost in front of
the public hospital? The Générale de Santé would thus seize this great
opportunity to close its nearby hospitals rather than renovating them.

Despite its propaganda for "participative democracy", the city council
did not ask us or anyone else from the neighbourhood before proposing
the deal which not only threatens us, but would also decide upon the
future of a whole part of town.

* * *

Why support Les Tanneries loud and clear?

The council's policies are already threatening the independant theater
"L'Eldorado", as well as the squat called "Le Toboggan". By planning to
shut down "Les Tanneries", the council will ostensibly confirm that the
so-called "socialist" party wants France to be a police state without
places of resistance, experimentation and popular culture.

"Les Tanneries" hosts a concert hall for do-it-yourself bands and
miscellaneous performances, a housing collective and some anarchist
affinity groups, a hacklab for developing free software and running
alternative servers, a free-shop, a space for mecanics and a bike-repair
workshop, rehearsal rooms and silk-screening facilities, a meeting
space, an organic garden, an alternative media center, a squatters'
helpdesk, a library, diverse ecological constructions, dozens of
collectives, associations, and local and international networks that use
the space to organise gigs, info-nights, actions, skill-shares, meetings
and projects...

While public cultural spaces run with the help of huge grants, and
private ones thanks to businesses and sponsors, hundreds of people come
weekly to "Les Tanneries" to create a truly independent culture and
indulge in all kinds of activities for free or on a "sliding-scale"
basis. To preserve its freedom, "Les Tanneries" has always been run
without any kind of subsidees nor any employees.

In a country where self-managed structures are almost always repressed
and therefore fragile, "Les Tanneries" is one of the very few long
lasting projects of this kind. Hence it has become a resourceful place
and a crucial part of an autonomous, activist and counter-cultural scene
in Europe.

"Les Tanneries" is about putting radical social views into practice and
about providing tools for people to experience their ideas. We try to
break down the borders between our "personal lives" and the "political
world" - an attempt at organizing in formal horizontal fashion, against
authoritarian and hierarchical structures.

We want to build things ourselves and change our own lives by
challenging domination, racism, sexism and homophobia - in the streets,
as much as within our own walls. Most importantly, we want to do it now,
rather than wait for some D-day that might not come.

However, "Les Tanneries" doesn't want to be a "nice and friendly"
alternative that won't shove established powers too violently, nor does
it want to be some tolerated folklorical zoo that would prove the
democratic goodwill of council leaders. We're here to struggle and
change the world, naturally!

Still, we don't fantasize about standing on the fringe of society.
Contrary to the cynical mainstream political norm, experiences such as
ours are showing it is possible to practically challenge capitalism and
authority without electoral speeches. Throughout its existence, "Les
Tanneries" has proved that it is not only realistic, but also relevant
to self-organise without institutions. We also believe that we've
demonstrated that our project is not just the delirious utopia of a
bunch of kids who will change their minds when they grow older.

"Les Tanneries", just like all these places standing against the world
surrounding them, is unique in its way, and yet bound to the history of
so many. It sprang out of the dreams, collusions and affinities,
encounters and combativity of hundreds of people. Carved within its
walls are the joys and angers, rages and passions, adventures and
emotions of several generations.

* * *

# Our project can't be moved or destroyed;
# It must stay in the neighbourhood!

Whatever the new urban development plans for the neighbourhood might be,
we will struggle to preserve what we've been building here for ten years
and to ensure that the project as a whole can carry on. It is perfectly
possible, considering how much available space there is around "Les
Tanneries". With a real political will from the City Hall, suitable
solutions can be found.

Thanks to everyone for their support, and thanks for the series of
pressure actions that were done before "Les Tanneries" got an end to
city harassment in 2002. Five years later, we're ready to start fighting
again to defend this space and build a new network of resistance based
upon the contacts, experiences and complicities that we've made over the
years. Not only is "Les Tanneries" deeply-rooted locally, but it is also
part of a larger community whose affinities know no borders. Be it
through support actions around the world, or by coming to "Les
Tanneries" to physically defend the place against eviction, we expect
this extended family to mobilize with us!

Let's hope leaders will keep in mind the long days and nights of
demonstrating and rioting that paralysed the Danish capital in the last
weeks, as well as the number of radical actions that happened all over
Europe in support of our friends in Ungdomshuset. Just like theirs, our
struggle is a global fight for self-organised spaces and nodes of
subversion to carry on and extend all over Europe.

While we're very likely to call for solidarity actions in the future, we
want to start with a warning campaign, and incite you to write to
Dijon's city-hall to say that you want "Les Tanneries" to carry on
existing where it is. If you want to be informed of support actions and
demonstrations, send us your e-mail or phone number at
tanneries@squat.net.

We'll defend, we'll resist. Parce qu'on a la rage!

Dijon, March 24th 2007,
Espace autogéré des Tanneries,
http://squat.net/tanneries/
tanneries@squat.net
==================================================
* The autonomous space "Les Tanneries" is well known throughout Europe to
be one of the most active anarchist social centre in France.
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