Over the past few years, the growing right wing trend in the Netherlands has led to various mutterings about a law banning squatting. At present, if a building is empty for a year it can be legally squatted. A coalition of three parties - CDA, VVd and ChristenUnie has now put a law before the Dutch Parliament asking for squatting to be criminalised and for squatters to be threatened with a jail sentence of up to two years and eight months.
The parties appear to be worried that squatting is spreading across the nation - even to cities such as Groningen, Leiden, Zwolle and Breda they state, whilst in reality these cities have had strong squat scenes since the 1980s.
Despite the leaders of the four largest Dutch cities (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht, Den Haag) writing an open letter to Parliament stating that squatting is an essential part of the cultural basis of their cities and despite widespread public support for squatters, a ban could be imminent.
To steal a slogan from the OT301 in Amsterdam (a now legalised, originally squatted film academy), there is no culture without subculture. In support it is easy to point to organisations and spaces such as Eurodusnie in Leiden, Vera in Groningen, the Poortgebouw and Fabriek in Rotterdam, the Dolle Tolle in Den Bosch, ACU in Utrecht, Extrapool in Nijmegen, the Pirate Bar, the White Space and the Garage in Den Haag and the Melkweg, the Binnepret, Vrankrijk, ASCII and the EigenAardig in Amsterdam.
Astoundingly the member of the Dutch Parliament seems to be more concerned about empty buildings being occupied than the issues it should be busy with, but no doubt the squatters will keep them aware of that fact. If the law goes through there will certainly be widespread resistance.
One step back in the right direction is a White Book of squatting compiled from stories of the successes of the squat scene, which has been planned since the April2008 initiative as a response to the VVd's rather pathetic (and unfulfilled) attempt to make a black book of squatting in Groningen.
The proposal in full, in Dutch can be found here - http://www.krakendrotterdam.org/pdf/wkl_voorstel.pdf
dyslexic squatters untie