On Tuesday September 5th the municipal court in Prague opened the way for the eviction of Klinika, an autonomous social centre set up in one of the city’s old clinics. The State, which owns the site, successfully argued that it shouldn’t have to a extend a unique contract drawn up with the Klinika collective in 2015 which allows them to stay and self-manage the building.
The collective is convinced that the autonomous social centre can remain functioning regardless of the decision, saying it is senseless to destroy a functional social centre visited by thousands of people for an uncertain and highly uneconomical reconstruction of the building into offices, where planning approval alone will take years due to the need to change the relevant zoning regulations.
Klinika started in November 2014 with the occupation of a former lung clinic in Prague’s District 3, which had stood empty since 2009. It was evicted by the police after only 10 days but after months of negotiations the State agreed to a contract with the social centre for a year with the expectation that it would be extended. The centre immediately started a packed community programme with concerts, language courses, kitchens for all, lectures, workshops and many other events, all for free or via voluntary donations, winning the František Kriegl Prize last year for “exemplary courage expressed by individuals or civic institutions in the quest for upholding human and civil rights, and political tolerance.”
After Klinika became one of the first groups in the city to organise help for refugees in the summer of 2015 however the State and the local town hall became less and less sympathetic and in March 2016, when the original contract ended, they refused to extend it, claiming that the use of the site as a social centre is illegal as it’s zoned as a health care centre. Since then the centre has continued with its activities without a contract,but the collective has been forced to pay CZK1,000 (about £35) a day for the privilege – which to this day amounts to hundreds of thousands of Koruna.
The legal ruling comes in the wake of a number of dirty tricks by the State which have aimed to get the collective out, including exploiting anonymous bomb threats by rolling in with hundreds of heavily-armed riot police to “secure the area.” The collective, which has already been able to mobilise rallies drawing thousands of people in its defence, notes:
We believe the city, country and the world needs places like Klinika and we will do everything in our power to keep it alive. To this end we need help from all of you. Firstly, due to the fines we are deeply in debt. You can help us by organising some benefit event and/or by donating to our transparent bank account link (IBAN: CZ8220100000002600985228 SWIFT/BIC: FIOBCZPPXXX). Also soli-demos at Czech embassies in your countries could be helpful.
If our efforts in keeping the centre alive fail the eviction itself will most likely come in October or November. Once we know the date more accurately we will put out a call to all people willing to come and help in the house itself. Please, follow our Twitter account @centrum_klinika, our web page klinika.451.cz ( … our Facebook page has just been shut down by Facebook so this is an unreliable channel).
Thanks to all who stand with Klinika, another world is possible!
This article is an edited version of an article by Klinika