Warsaw squat Elba threatened with eviction! Call for solidarity!


The oldest and well known Warsaw squat is in serious danger of eviction! On 16th March security agents with the police brutally raided the building, thanks to quick mobilization and brave defense action it Didn't succeed. The owner declares to raid again on 23.03.12. We call for solidarity actions! Below official statement of the Elba collective.


Videos from the eviction:



Photo gallery:



We want to express our deepest outrage in regard to the illicit actions of the police and the workers of the “Skrzecz” security agency during the eviction attempt on the 16th of March 2012.

The eviction of the squat was illegal as it had no legal justification, i.e. a court decision. The landlord is aware of the fact that we have been using these premises for 4 years now as a place for concerts, exhibitions, festivals, theater plays, political discussions and all forms of social activities. The Elba Squat hosts a screen-printing and bicycle workshop, a rehearsal room, a gym, a climbing wall, a darkroom for photographers, a film club and a freeshop. Another crucial function of the squat, apart from the socio-political one, is the educational value of the place. All initiatives are free of charge and open for everyone, all information is posted on the official website.

During the four years of being active here we never received any donations, funding or monetary gifts from any state institution. And nevertheless we function as a cultural center which is open for less wealthy people who cannot afford the cultural offer of the city. Besides, they often do not care about the “culture” that the city has to offer. Warsaw is slowly becoming a city for the rich. A city where the authorities are mostly occupied with destroying any kind of social activity. Schools and kindergartens are being closed with no regard to protests of the community, parents and teachers. Traditional “milk-bars” are being shut down. Public squares are being sold to private investors who are going to fill them with office and apartment buildings. As inhabitants of the city we are entitled to shape the environment we live in. The Elba Squat is an open community based on the principles of grassroots democracy and on cooperation not competition.

At the same time Stora Enso, the corporation that owns the premises, is a worldwide leader in terms of illegal expropriations – they were pleaded guilty for unlawfully taking over of 92 THOUSAND hectares of land in Brazil and ploughing through the rain forest to plant celluloid trees. In China whole villages have been expropriated and 120 THOUSAND hectares taken over for a similar business. The company always received support from local authorities and police. They never learn – in Brazil they have been sued for illegal expropriations 850 times as for now. To sum up: until now Stora Enso illegally squatted an area four times as big as Warsaw, more than 200.000 hectares of land – their care for the sacred law of private property cannot be labeled with any other term than “hypocrisy”.

The events that took place last Friday are outrageous considered our input into the life of Warsaw. We demand to be treated as people, as a partner in talks and negotiations for which we are ready. The city belongs to us, we live in it, we want to have influence on it.

As a direct response to the argument “what if some squatters entered my flat?”we would like to stress that we did not enter any flat but a space that has not been used for many years. Thanks to our efforts these empty spaces and buildings turned into a vivid and open place of social activities. Policemen and security workers forcefully entered private rooms, battered and shoved the inhabitans, destroyed their property and spaces, threatened and intimidated us. Small amounts of money disappeared in the course of action. The police officers broke the law by refusing to state their names and ranks – they broke the law because they felt that they can afford it. The measures that had been used – water cannons, smoothbore weapons, CS gas, pepper sprays, policemen in riot gear – were unproportionally inadequate to the peaceful demonstration.

After considering a similar situation that took place in Wrocław in 1998 the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg declared the police intervention illegal and that it infringed the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

The consent for the functioning of alternative and autonomous forms of social life is not only a term of social development but also a measure of freedom. We speak of development because it is the alternative that makes us search, discuss, think. We speak of freedom because in a free society people that choose not to comply to the dominant system and sell their lives for a bank loan have the right to make their choices and their way of life has to be respected. There are cities where the alternative communities are not only respected but also supported to the benefit of the whole society. In New York, in Manhattan, the authorities sold a tenement to squatters for one dollar. We are aware that Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz is unqualified to be the mayor of New York an thus only demand to be treated like people with full respect for our work and choices.

The Elba Collective