Dutch Squatting Ban
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Protesters confront police in Amsterdam over the squatting ban
|Location||Amsterdam, other cities in the Netherlands|
On 1 October 2010, squatting became de-facto illegal in the Netherlands. Riots in Amsterdam and Nijmegen, and several protests followed. Squatters converged, occupying the former office of a fire department.
The recently elected coalition government motioned a squatting ban on 1 June. The referendum was accepted by both houses of parliament with enforcement to commence 1 October. Former moves to ban squatting had been unsuccessful. In June 2006, ministers Sybilla Dekker and Piet Hein Donner from the Dutch government proposed a plan to illegalise squatting. Other ministers, such as Alexander Pechtold, were not in favor. Representatives of the four largest Dutch cities wrote a letter stating that it would not be in their interest to ban squatting. Squatters nationwide made banners, hanging them on their squats in protest.
Dutch squatting has it's origins in the 1960s when despite many empty properties, the Netherlands was suffering a homes shortage. Property owners kept homes to speculate and drive the market price upwards. Squatting was seen more politically to combat speculation, rather than for practicality. Property owners often neglected to repair buildings in the hope of obtaining demolition permits. Squatting gained legal bases during a landmark ruling by the Supreme Court that the concept of domestic peace (huisvrede, requiring permission from current occupier to enter) also applied to squatters. This effected a legal requirement on property owners to take squatters to court in order to evict them.
The squatting movement took an increasingly anarchist tone during the 1980s. On 29 February, police moved to evict residents from a squatted building on the corner of Vondelstraat. Immediately it was reoccupied with barricades erected. Street fights ensued between riot police and the squatters, with the building being cleared when a military tank demolished the surrounding street barricades. Later that year Queen Beatrix's coronation was marred by rioting after squatters had been chanting "Geen Woning, Geen Kroning" - No Housing, No Coronation in the months leading up.
 Move to ban squatting
A coalition of minority parties, notably the pro-business VVD party is a vocal critic of squatting and immigration. Arguing that the practice of squatting encourages immigration from south and east European countries. Backed by leader of the PPV, Geert Wilders they moved to outlaw squatting and immigration (particularly from Muslim countries) soon after gaining power. The new declaration to outlaw squatting would begin on the 1 October with penalties of a year in prison, with more if violence was involved. Amsterdam Mayor Eberhard van der Laan and police commissioner Leen Schaap stated their intention to evict roughly 200 of 300 squats in Amsterdam, with squatting to be treated as a criminal offence.
Leading up to the ban, there was an overnight sit-in at Dam Square on 25 September. The next day a former fire department office was occupied, but the building was handed back over to tenants before the squatting ban on 1 October.
At midnight, 1 October 2010 squatting became a criminal offence. The law formerly having been been dealt with in civil courts passed into criminal law. An Amsterdam protest numbering 800-1000 by various estimates occurred during the day. By nightfall police charged protesters initiating violence. Protesters responded throwing rocks, bricks and bottles at police and vandalising cars. Protesters built ad-hoc street barricades from metal fences and bicycles to repel police charges by armoured vans and on horseback. Police response included the use of bulldozers and water cannons to clear streets and clear street fires. Another protest occurred the next day in Nijmegen. Police dispersed the protest by force and closed down the central station, arresting protesters present. In Amsterdam that same evening, the police station was attacked by Molotov cocktails. Amsterdam Mayor Eberhard van der Laan appeared on television to urge calm, claiming the unrest was the provocations of a core group of 150. Police commissioner Leen Schaap restated his intent to enforce the law, deploying riot police around the city and sending a contingent to evict a squatted house in the centre owned by ING Bank that turned out to be empty.
- ^ Kraakmeer @ Weesperzijde 99, Amsterdam
- ^ Kraken wordt strafbaar
- ^ Letter to Minister Dekker from four main cities
- ^ Grote steden tegen verbod op kraken
- ^ Landelijke spandoekenaktie kraakverbod
- ^ a b c d e DutchAmsterdam.nl - Squatting in Amsterdam
- ^ a b c d e MSNBC Violent protests after Dutch outlaw squatting - Once-respected tradition of living in unused buildings is now a crime
- ^ a b BBC News report on squatter protests
- ^ n-1.cc blog post - Anti squatting ban demos in The Netherlands by bocaextra
- ^ a b c squat!net: events in Amsterdam
- ^ Indymedia.NL Dam Sleeping Action
- ^ Indymedia.NL Am*dam Social center squatted - days of action continue!
- ^ whatever.squat.net Weesperzijde 99
- ^ Indymedia.NL A * dam Squatters leave former fire station
- ^ UK Indymedia - Riots in Amsterdam against the squatting ban
- ^ a b c Kraakverbod - report of events
- ^ at5 news kraak protest
- ^ Stuff.co.nz - Squatters riot in Amsterdam
- ^ Indymedia.NL - Demonstratie; "NOOD KRAAKT WET", 2 oktober Nijmegen
- ^ Squat Evictions In Amsterdam