Summer of squatting in Finland

Summer of squatting in Finland
August 28 2007
During the summer 2007 squatting activity has spread all across Finland. In Helsinki there have been six different occupations. In Turku two houses have been occupied, but both of them have been evicted. In Tampere one social center has been created and is still functioning. The occupations started in Helsinki in May, when a house was occupied for a social center in the Katajanokka district in the center of Helsinki. After the Karku Social center was evicted, we occupied an abandoned restaurant in Hakaniemi for two different parties. A few weeks later another building was occupied in the Punavuori district. That social center was also evicted after two weeks by a massive police operation assisted by an helicopter of the Finnish Frontier Guard.

In the end of July there was also a temporary occupation for a party, and of August 2 we occupied again a house for a social center in the Vallila district. This social center is still working actively. Several gigs, discussions, Pirate Cinema events and lots of other stuff have been organised. Due to the ongoing occupations, the authorities have expressed their fatigue and their will to arrange a space for a social center but the negotiations have not led to any solution. The bureaucrats have defended the previous evictions of occupied houses by saying that the occupied houses would have been too expensive for the city. At the same time the city is spending enormous amounts of money to support projects which serve only private economic interests. After the third social center occupation, the city eventually seems to be willing to let us keep the building. Once again we have seen that the need for a free urban space can't be suppressed by violence. In the first years of the millennium, there was a lot of squatting activity in Finland, which resulted in creating an autonomous social center Siperia in Herttoniemi. After a few silent years, especially after Siperia burned down in June 2006, a new squatting movement has risen. The enthusiasm created by the example of Ungdomshuset in Copenhagen and other social centers in different European countries, and the rage about their repression, has been an important factor for the birth of this movement. The struggle about the control of urban space has in the last years been limited to fighting against police and private security guards' repression of graffiti artists, without ability to create positive alternatives to the privatization and capitalist capturing of the urban space. Now thanks to the occupations and the new social center, a possibility to create and to protect autonomous and free zones for co-operation and culture has emerged. The new squatting movement involves perhaps more people and is more active than any of the previous squatting "seasons".

And even if the authorities would try to evict the new social center also this time, the occupations will continue. The urban space does not have any worth without the people living there, and this is why people should not have to pay for their presence in the city.

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