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(en) France, Dijon, Victory of "les Tanneries"'s struggle -- Victory of the Mexican consulate occupation trial.

Date Sun, 22 Jul 2007 17:27:12 +0300

1. Last year during the pga conference in dijon, there has been an occupation of the mexican consulate in solidarity with the struggles in Oxaca. The police arrested 6 people from various countries after the occupation and got charged of "trespass" and "aggravated theft" and "violence". A Collective of legal support, with the arrested people and others, was immediately created. Various other solidarity actions with oaxaca struggles and debates were oragnized in dijon during the last year as well as as debates and a support meeting at the front of the justice court during the tria in june. The result of the trial has just been given and the 6 people have been found "non-guilty" of all the charges. The solidarity with the struggles in Oaxaca goes on.

2. The second news comes a bit late on this list, but as the last pga
conference was partly organized and welcomed in "les Tanneries" in Dijon
and as that space had been threatened of eviction during the last months,
I thouhght it was still worth sending it here. Sorry if you have already
been reading it elsewhere. This is the "victory" communiqué
that we recently did :

Tannneries-support : news, account on the mobilisation, and victory!

Dear friends,

At last, here comes an update on our situation! Our apologies to all our
international friends, comrades and supporters throughout the world who
have been awaiting this long for news, but as you can imagine, we've
been really busy. Anyways, it's more than time to confirm the rumour
that's been spreading for four weeks already: we might not have won the
fight, but we definitely have won the first round!

First of all, we want to send our warm greetings to all those of you who
made this possible, by sending protest letters, faxes and e-mails, by
threatening the council by phone, by organizing protest actions in your
cities and in front of your embassies, by staying with us, be it for a
night or for a week, by sending us encouragement, greetings and
energy. More than ever, we feel part of a thriving & vibrant community -
made of affinities without borders, seditious complicities, wonderful
people and practical solidarity.

Then, we want to stress that our struggle is not just local, and that
our victory can only be partial when other autonomous spaces such as the
Köpi & Rigaerstraße in Berlin, Ungdomshuset in Copenhaguen, Blitz in
Oslo, Ifanet in Thessaloniki, as well as miscellaneous social centres in
Amsterdam, Barcelona and elsewhere are being threatened or destroyed.
We believe in reinforcing the informal links that bind us, in standing
together, in resisting together!

* * *

a brief account on the mobilisation in and around Dijon

* * *

Late March 2007, we discovered that discrete negotiations were under way
between the council and the "Générale de Santé" corporate group to build
a private medical complex on our site. After repeatedly asking the
council for an explanation and not getting any answer, we decided to
launch a new campaign, in an attempt to break into the subject while it
was hot, before any decisions would be taken.

Within days, a call was spread to gather in front of the city hall on
March 26th. Some 300 people showed up and demonstrated outside, while a
group of 70 activists entered the building to disrupt the city council
assembly, which was then taking place. The meeting was blocked, and the
mayor had to meet our first demand: answers. Suddenly, we had an
appointment for the next day; yet another proof that collective action
is far more efficient than polite letters.

After that first wave of pressure, the council admitted they had a
project, but that we would be advised of any decision; to which we
answered that we didn't want to be told what would happen, but that we
would prevent such a project from happening. To the perspective of
relocating our space, we answered it was out of the question for us to
move, and that we would campaign and resist, to maintain the structures
we'd been building over 10 years.

In the following weeks, hundreds of letters, messages and phone calls
were addressed from all parts of France and Europe to the city hall,
while posters, flyers and graffiti in defense of "Les Tanneries" quickly
covered the whole city. Most political meetings from the Socialist Party
(holding the city council and running for elections at the time) were
disrupted by speeches about our situation, while contacts were made with
tens of collectives in and around Dijon, a number of which sent protest
letters to the council. To know all sides of the enemy, we invited
ourselves to the "Générale de Santé" as a group, and obtained an
appointment with its head, who confirmed negotiations with the council
were underway, but said to be open to build the medical complex a bit
further from our location.

On May 6rd, right-wing Sarkozy was elected for president. Riots broke
out throughout the whole country in anger. In Dijon, hundreds of people
clashed with riot cops protecting the right wing party's headquarters,
and a few capitalist targets were attacked. A few days later, the local
right wing accused us of being responsible for the rioting, demanding
the council shut us down. We answered by expressing our solidarity with
all demonstrators through a communique, explaining that we wouldn't drop
a tear for the bank windows that were smashed.

Turning a large number of issues of the newspaper that contained the
infamous article into confettis during one of our demonstrations did not
only rile the journalist in charge, but also led him to publish large
bits of our answer in the next issue. This happened in the context of a
media crackdown on anarchist and autonomous circles in France, which the
police has widely held responsable for the social unrest that spread
through the country after the election, resulting in several squats
being raided and people detained.

Still lacking any guarantee in the maintenance of our space, we planned
an escalation of protests, with a first date set for May 19th, for which
we announced a colourful and active demonstration, and a second date set
for June 9th, for a massive Reclaim The Streets concert mixing militant
hip-hop (Keny Arkana) with punk (Guerilla Poubelle) and revolutionary
songs (René Binamé).

In the meantime, support messages kept arriving, together with
delighting news of international solidarity. In Copenhagen, on May 3rd,
a demonstration was held in defense of various occupied social centres,
among which was Les Tanneries; when the demonstration tried to reach the
French embassy, it was attacked by police, which led to street riots and
burning barricades throughout the night. In Berlin, on May 8th, a
demonstration for the Köpi gathered some 1000 people, behind a banner
stating "Köpi, Blitz, Les Tanneries, Ifanet - we stand together, we
fight together". In Barcelona, on May 19th, the demonstration for
autonomous spaces, which was blocked and attacked by the police, carried
a banner in defense of "Les Tanneries" & "Köpi".

In Dijon, on the same May 19th, the Tanneries' demonstration started with
a public reading of the international solidarity statement coming from
Barcelona, and then went through the streets, led by an energetic
batukada, followed by some 400 participants. Posters were glued on the
walls throughout the whole demonstration, which eventually arrived in
the park right behind the council. There, a group of activists climbed
up trees, deployed big banners opposite the council windows, and set up
an aerial camp, while a flyer was distributed on the ground, announcing
the permanent occupation of the park and its transformation into a
temporary autonomous zone, until the mayor would commit to not
endangering Les Tanneries.

This made the city council freak out slightly. After the police said
they couldn't evict the trees, lacking numbers and equipment, city
officials were still there late at night, proposing to renew our
contract for four more years if we'd climb down. Without any written
confirmation, we refused, and spent a night up in the trees. On the next
day though (a Sunday morning), we were brought a signed commitment from
the mayor, and thus decided to leave, after 24 hours of occupation.

Not only did we win four more years, but we also had confirmation that
the private medical complex would not be built on top of our house,
rather be our neighbour. Despite that first big victory, we had a
remaining worry: the "Générale de Santé" would still have a legal right
to appropriate all surrounding land within the next 15 years. However,
being pressured by the perspective of a huge street party in front of
the city hall on the day before before the parliament election, the
council promised that if the land we're occupying was to be sold, our
lease would remain untouched. We got their word, for what it's worth;
after two months of mobilisation, we've chosen to take a break and enjoy
a first victory, remain vigilant and see.

As a result, we relocated June 9th's street party to our house, calling
for a celebration of our two months of struggle, getting the occasion to
open our doors wide and show the diversity that lies within Les
Tanneries. It was quite a thrilling week-end for many, combining
enraged hip-hop and punk outdoors, vegan food and anarchist literature,
speeches and videos about Ungdomshuset and squatting in Barcelona,
exhibits, conferences and movies on the popular uprising in Oaxaca, an
electro dancefloor and a day-long graffiti jam-session.

However, the struggle is not over. It wasn't more than a few days before
the right wing party reacted, attacking the council's decision to let us
stay. The mayor answered that local elections were soon to come, and
that if the right wing party wanted to claim they'd get rid of "Les
Tanneries" as part of their campaign, they very well could, but that he
wished them a lot of luck! It is clear that we'll have to be on our
guard during the local election next year.

In any case, our concern extends way beyond Dijon, when autonomous
spaces are being shut down everywhere, anarchist and radical left
circles are being criminalised, social control is being enforced, just
about everywhere. Our combative greetings and thoughts fly out to all
those in Copenhagen, Berlin, Thessaloniki, Oslo, Barcelona, Amsterdam,
Paris and elsewhere, who keep fighting to keep police hands off our few
liberated spaces!

Dijon, June 2007
Espace autogéré des Tanneries

Please support our comrades in struggle:
· in Copenhagen: http://ungdomshuset.dk/
· in Berlin: http://squat.net/r84/ & http://koepi.squat.net/
· in Oslo: http://blitz.no/
· in Barcelona: http://okupesbcn.net/
· in Amsterdam: http://www.krakengaatdoor.nl/
· ... http://squat.net/ & http://indymedia.org/
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