Archive for March, 2009

Support those Imprisoned for the Defense of Ungdomshuset

March 9, 2009

Four of the fifteen Danish activist, who took part in the strugge to save Ungdomshuset, have been sentenced and imprisoned, whilst nine others who took part in the occupation are still going through the courts.

Photo of the occupation taken weeks beore eviction and demolition of the house
Photo of the occupation taken weeks beore eviction and demolition of the house

The Story in Brief…

Ungdomshuset (translating to ‘Youth House’) was an epic community and culutral centre which provided an important space for youth, anarchists, anti-authroitarians and autonomous struggles in Copenhagen for over a quarter of a century. It was built in 1897  by unions as an organising space, cultural and community centre and entitled ‘Folket Huset’ (Peoples House).

In the 70’s, it had become disused and derelict and was purchased by a supermarket who hoped to tear it apart but were unable to get consent due it’s historical importance; hosting the first international feminist conference and speakers such as Lenin on a regular basis. In 1982 however, it was squatted and an agreement between the neighbourhood and the city took place, deciding on making it the official youth house.

Photo by Hans Joergensen
Photo by Hans Joergensen

In 1999 the Danish state sold it to ‘Faderhuset’ who are a small but disturbing cult of fundamentalist right-wing Christians. This was essentially a declaration of war made by the state against the autonomous peoples of Copenhagen and their many friends across the planet. As no resolution could be found between the youth and the state, and legal proceedings came to an end denying the youth the right to their house; the resistance intensified seeing direct action, popular struggle and insurrectionary revolt in the streets of Denmark, as well as solidarity manifestations across Europe and around the world.

It could be said that a defining moment of this struggle was after the ‘Final Battle for Ungdomshuset’  during decemeber 2006, (a battle which saw more police hospitalised than protesters) which ended with Copenhagens chief of police pleading with liaisons of the house; exclaiming that they could not continue to fight out on the streets, and offering the youth a new building if they would end the occupation. This started a whole new set of negotiations which resulted in a refusal to end the occupation but an agreement to fulfill the demand for a new building of equal size or bigger, if the eviction were to go ahead.

On March 1st the eviction took place and within days the building was completely demolished, over 800 people imprisoned and riots spread across the Danish state. The whole thing cost an equivalent of a 144 million kroner, or almost 20,000,000 euros.

Today…

Two years later and the trials of 13 people continue while 4 remain in prison. The importance of defending spaces, spaces that are territory, created, liberated and fought for; cannot be underestimated in these times of very real and approaching social, political and economic crises, and in the face of increasingly fascist, technocratic-imperialist-tyrannies, oppression and social control, everywhere…. Those who fight to keep these much needed organising and cultural centres; doing so while knowing the risks of incarceration, are sacrificing their freedom, bodies and lives for the people and struggles everywhere, as a space like this was used by tens of thousands across the planet.

It has been said before “they are in their for us, we need to be out their for them!’ and it’s every bit true. Show support and solidarity with the occupiers of ungdomshuset. Keep squatting, keep supporting local squats and social centres; building a society with free spaces like these to sort out the many serious problems our societies must deal with, and abolishing those institutions which are making freedom an impossible dream,  ie prison.

To write to those imprisoned or for general support get in touch with the Danish Black Cross via their website

-Gwilym