Amsterdam: report back from the 8th of March squatting action

The squats!

from squat.net

Today, in honor of 8th of March, we, Anarcha-Feminist Group Amsterdam, organized squatting action with demonstration. Due to security concerns, it was organized silently, sharing call-out in private channels. Despite this, more that 60 comrades came to support our action! 3 banners (“Woman life freedom”, “Sex work is work”, “destroy patriarchy, fight capitalism, smash the state”) were dropped with flares from the windows of the squatted building. Police were present, but no one was arrested.

Our political statement:

We are told that there are not enough houses for everyone, that there are not enough spaces for the refugees and migrants coming here fleeing imperialist wars and economies that have been destroyed by (neo)colonialism. It is unacceptable that the media blame migration for the fact that we all seem to struggle to find a home. This is an example of scapegoating migrants and refugees.

There is no problem of a lack of space, there is no “housing crisis”, the only problem is the unequal distribution of wealth. The problem is capitalism.

We are being pushed out of our city by rising rent prices and gentrification. Social housing is being sold off privately and the lack of affordable housing means working class people are forced to leave the city. Even people with essential professions such as teachers, healthcare workers and social workers are forced to move. People struggle to pay rent while speculators are given free range to do as they please. Some private investors have hundreds of houses, for example, prince Bernhard has more than 600 houses, and the owner of this building, Anthonie Mans, owns over 100 other properties in the Netherlands. Waiting lists for social housing are ridiculous and it can take from 8 to 14 years for people to get a place. But for every homeless person there is an estimate of 750m2 of empty building in Amsterdam.

Rent is theft. Maintenance of one room does not cost hundreds of euros per month. This money goes directly into the pockets of landlords or speculators. The housing issue disproportionately affects women and queer people. For example, queer teenagers are more likely to become homeless. People who experience domestic abuse are sometimes forced to stay in unsafe situations because they cannot financially afford to leave. Landlords often discriminate against potential renters based on their ethnicity, income, gender, sexuality and ability. They are known to often be intimidating, unreasonable and feel entitled to tell us how to live our private lives.

Since the squatting ban came into effect, homelessness has doubled. However, far too often there has been an uncomfortably close relationship between squatting and gentrification, and nowhere does this ring more true than in Amsterdam. Squatting has historically been a movement against gentrification, the extortion of rent and a rejection of the institution of private property all together- but in the last years rather than fighting gentrification some squatters have been actively leading its way. Working together with the state in order to try and hold on to the little ‘free spaces’ and legalised squats that are still left (often without success). We reject this position and strategy. We want housing for all, not just for a select group of ‘artists and freethinkers’. We need to speak to our oppressors from a position of power, not beg them to throw us some crumbs. The city belongs to all that live in it, and it is time that we take it back.

Sex workers are told they are not allowed to work while other contact professions are – this only contributes to the further stigmatisation of sex work. The government is closing windows in Amsterdam supposedly because it wants to rescue sex workers from human trafficking and bring down crime, not only is there no empirical evidence that closing windows would help with this, taking away someone’s workplace will more likely only make their situation more precarious and dangerous. Moving sex workers away from the city center to a less rich neighborhood to remove “disturbance” from the rich neighborhood, falls into a structural pattern of stigmatizing sex work and stigmatizing the working class. If the state really cared about sex workers, rather than victimizing us they would give material support during this pandemic, or allow us to work. Sex work is work. Fighting for worker’s rights means fighting for sex workers rights as well.

The history of the 8th of March is very radical and inspirational. It even was the starting point of Russian revolution! But what happened to the 8th of March and feminism in general? Capitalism. As the modern economic learned how to commodify and take profit from the protest against it, feminism wasn’t an exception. As a result, when people hear the word feminism, they don’t always think about radical, intersectional and anti-capitalist feminism. They think about a type of feminism that says there should be “more female politicians”, “more girl bosses”. This is called “liberal feminism”, but it’s more like a meticulously crafted advertisement campaign. Liberal “feminism” doesn’t really care about socially oppressed groups even if they are women. It refuses to see the root of gender inequality, it tries to be fair, but stops half-way. Liberal feminism fails to recognize the relationship between capitalism and patriarchy. But if we oppose patriarchy, we should oppose capitalism and vice versa. While women have to go to work, when they get home they still have to do house duties and provide emotional support, this is also work but work that is undervalued and unpaid.

Instead of fighting the problem, which is capitalism, liberal feminism has people fighting for ways to coexist with it. Such ideology paints the intersectional feminist movement as “crazy-man-haters”. With the help of capital, they buy your attention from screens of your laptops/tvs/phones with “feel good girl power” movies, songs etc. They sell you nice clothes with “feel good girl power” slogans. They are giving you a discount to buy cosmetics in the honor of 8th of March “strong ladies day”. In this way they are erasing the history and the meaning of such an incredibly important day for all women.

The 8 th of March is the day to remember the struggle of the women that came before us! It is the day to show solidarity with women who struggle today! It is the day, to celebrate our fight against capitalism and smash this damn patriarchy! As long as the 1% rule the world, even if half of them are women, the lives of the 99% would not be better!

As fem folks we are often told not to take up too much space. We are socially conditioned to keep our mouths shut and our legs closed. Not to dream too big or breath too loudly. But we are being strangled and we are expected to smile. There is no space that is safe under this patriarchal capitalist system. Solidarity is the only solution. Stand by those who are fighting their own oppression, their struggle is your struggle, their fight is our fight. We are not free until all are free. We will not let ourselves be the collateral damage of this crisis. We will not let ourselves be pushed out of this city! It’s time to take back space!

As feminists, we know that struggle involves work and it involves love. We stand in solidarity with the kurdish women who have been imprisoned by the Turkish state, who are fighting in the mountains of Kurdistan and who are building new ways of life across society in all four parts of Kurdistan.
We stand in solidarity with Angel, the refugee woman who came to the Nehterlands to find safety but was murdered by the Dutch immigration system. She was a political struggler! She was a trans woman! We stand in solidarity with her and all immigrants!

There is no space that is safe under this patriarchal capitalist system, so we have to fight back.
Enough is enough! we need to take back space!

Anarcha-Feminist Group Amsterdam

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