For the last three years a ban on squatting has been in preparation in Dutch politics. A new act that is to ban squatting in the Netherlands has passed through parliament on October 15th. Squatting empty houses that have been empty for over a year is currently still legal in the Netherlands. The new act, an initiative by the Christian Democrats, the Christian Union and the conservative opposition party VVD, is to make squatting a felony punishable by at least one year and up to three years of prison when refusing to evict. Despite strong critique from the High Court, the union of city councils and even the Amsterdam police force, the christian/rightwing majority in The Hague is pushing this law through.
Having suffered from an immense housing shortage ever since the sixties, squatting has a long history in the Netherlands and has always been a legal means for thousands of people to acquire a roof over their heads. Not only will all these people be criminalized, no initiative to bring about other solutions for losing their homes has been brought up. This and the complete disregard for the culture that has been created by squatters and their vital role in activist infrastructure has been overlooked.
Currently the senate still has to vote on the new act, but given the same majority of parties that voted in favor in parliament also exists in the senate, odds are by January 1st 2010 all squats in the Netherlands will be up for eviction. Happy new year.
A three year campaign against the criminalization of squats, strongly focusing on improving the public image of the squatting movement has culminated on October 15th in the occupation of parliament square where a tent camp was set up on the day of voting. The moment the bill was voted upon the parliament had to disband as the meeting was disrupted by protest from the spectators bench, which was soon silenced by security and police. Hundreds of squatters on the square made an attempt to enter the parliament building to voice their dissent, but were driven away by riot cops. Later in the evening riot cops violently evicted the entire square, making over a hundred arrests.