Slovenia: Squat crackdown hits UPI social centre

Activists at Creative Platform Inde (UPI), one of Slovenia’s most active squatter social centres, have refused to leave after being threatened by the government through its State asset management arm BAMC, which is using the excuse of asbestos safety works. In a statement, the group said:

UPI welcomes the planned remediation of hazardous waste (asbestos, used needles) in the former factory INDE. However, we are announcing that we are not consenting to emptying the already restored spaces which from October, 5th 2014 have been in the use of UPI. We believe that the cleaning of hazardous waste is perfectly feasible without interrupting the activities of the collective.

Since 2014 we have proved through active involvement and massive response of visitors that this space is one of tremendous importance to the region. We are carrying out social programs (food for the socially disadvantaged, gathering supplies for the refugees, etc.), cultural programs (more than 300 concerts, roundtables, art exhibitions, film evenings, etc.), educational programs (lectures, workshops, practical training, etc.), environmental campaigns, remedial actions, sports programs (skate park, dance workshops, self-defence, sporting competitions and sports days) and so on.

The space of UPI represents a polygon for learning life skills and gaining new knowledge. All this is being done on a voluntary basis, free of charge, non-profit, and with a great deal of personal commitment. Now, with the Autonomous zone Argo gone, there is a danger that the region could lose the last of this kind of spaces that allow the exercise of our creative, social and critical potential, not basing on market logic.

In addition to UPI several homeless people found roof over their heads in the wider area of the abandoned factory. With the closing of this space they will lose their last refuge. DUTB is thereby endangering their lives during the coldest days of the year.

UPI, set up in an 2014 at abandoned factory INDE Koper, in the port town of Koper just south of Trieste, has been a key support space for anarchist organising in the country, and was the venue for the last general gathering of FAO, the Slovenian wing of the International of Anarchist Federations.

The site is owned by the Bank Assets Management Company (BAMC), created by the State in 2013 to restructure banks with severe liquidity problems. BAMC, which has recently become mired in a corruption scandal over executive pay, has built up a massive portfolio of property for the Slovenian government as a form of soft nationalisation.

It has also been quietly used to oust problematic dissenting groups. The squatted centre Argo in Izola, the next town down the coast, was evicted earlier this month by the same firm.