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One of the oldest European squats calls for solidarity in face of eviction threat

One of the oldest European squats calls for solidarity in face of eviction threat

Rozbrat, an anarchist squatted space in Poland, has called for solidarity in face of eviction threat.

Rozbrat is located in the western Poland city of Poznan. The property was squatted in 1994 and since then it became an alternative politics and cultural centre. It also serves as a home for over 20 people, and is both temporary and permanent shelter for homeless people.

The principal idea behind the space is grassroots organising and self-governing. It is a home to the local Anarchist Federation branch and Food not Bombs among others. The activists involved in Rozbrat have been very much part of the local and beyond projects, including Anarchist Black Cross, the Free Caucasus Committee and Workers Initiative Trade Union. The squat has also been hosting many grassroots initiatives, such as the anarchist library and publishing house, the printing workshop, self-education initiatives, bicycle workshop, a sports club, and a rehearsal space for musicians. Over the years, thousands of events have been organised at Rozbrat, including concerts, exhibitions, theatre plays, lectures, seminars, meetings and workshops.

Rozbrat has been a home to several generations of activists who have played critical roles during many social mobilisations and debates on social issues. The activists from Rozbrat and the Poznan Anarchist Federation have actively defended the most excluded inhabitants of the city, by supporting and initiating dozens of labour, tenant and environmental protests. It was also them who co-funded the regional tenants’ association and brought the issue of illegal displacements to public light by organising eviction blockades and making it nearly impossible to render homeless the city’s sick, disabled, seniors and parents with children.

In a statement, Rozbrat says:

“We have provided organisational, legal and moral support to thousands of victims of capitalism and of the state, and we supported other independent groups in Poland. We are building a movement that relies on solidarity and mutual help instead of a rat race. We have organised hundreds of rallies and demonstrations decrying contempt for people with lower material status, different skin colour or different views.”

Rozbrat’t rich history includes a previous eviction attempt in 2009, when the space was due to be auctioned, but no buyers turned up for the auction; and the February 1996 neo- nazi attack, when a large group raided the space, stabbing a woman while she was asleep in her bed. The victim nearly died of blood loss, and was saved only due to a very prompt medical treatment.

Today, the future of the space is again uncertain. In May, the bailiff office announced that is is preparing the auctioning of the property. That move came despite of the fact that several years ago, Rozbrat filled a case in court to secure rights to its lands based on adverse possession law. This case remains open.

The legal status of the land where Rozbrat is located is complicated. It was nationalised after the WW2, and, after Poland’s transition to capitalism, it was taken over by a private company as part of reprivatisation process. The new owner quickly went bankrupt following a number of loans the company took, and the lender, a bank, sold it to a debt trading company. The company is now demanding that the land is sold for an estimated 1.4 million Euro. This will certainly lead to an eviction attempt of the squat in order to make space for developers and land speculators to do their business.

According to Rozbrat:

“The Mayor of Poznan has declared that no tools are available to him that could force the bank to relinquish its claim to the plot and let the anarchists maintain the possession of the land. But we know that the state and local government have grounds for defending the social ownership of the property. They are simply refusing to make use of this right and stop the land speculation. The bailiff, real estate speculators and their political allies have once again taken legal steps to get rid of us. It is our conviction that after 25 years this area belongs to the Rozbrat community and needs to stay a collective property of the movement. We are not going to give it up without a fight. Rozbrat has countless times proved to serve the public interest, in contrast to the authorities, which represent the private interests of real estate developers.”

It is quite likely that Rozbrat will be forced to enter an expensive and complicated legal battle in order to defend itself. That could be costly, and the squat decided to ask for solidarity donations to cover legal costs. Anyone who is able to do so can donate to this account: BIGBPLPW 03 1160 2202 0000 0002 3589 7475 with reference “Donation to save Rozbrat”. Otherwise, share widely.


Photo: Rozbrat

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