Paris: European Communist Parties vs. Squats, European Social Forum Actions

Here is an english translation of the Indymedia Paris article about communist parties evicting squats, which was originally published in French here.

European Communist Parties vs. Squats : European Social Forum Actions

When the various European Communist Parties evict squats: action in support of the Ernst Kirchweger House, the only large squatted social center in Vienna, and the “La Charade” squat in St.-Martin d’Hères, during the ESF.

On Saturday, November 15, at the “City of Arts and Sciences” at Porte de la Villette, in Paris, Walter Baier, chairman of the Austrian Communist Party (KPÖ), representative of the Austrian Social Forum, and editor of the “Volkstimme” newspaper, was set to speak in a seminar on the topic, “Media and War.” The seminar was organized by the french Communist-Party newspaper “Humanité”. About 400 people were in the audience. After about an hour of official speeches by journalists and politicians, on the general theme of creating alternative media structures to build grassroots antiwar movements and to counteract the propaganda of mainstream media and power structures, it was Walter Baier’s turn to speak.

But before he could open his mouth, a member of the audience stood up to denounce the stinking hypocrisy of inviting Walter Baier to talk about grassroots media and the antiwar movement, while Walter Baier himself was getting ready to deliver the Ernst Kirchweger Haus (EKH), a 14-year-old autonomous social center that housed several alternative media projects, emergency housing for refugees, political projects for freedom of movement and racist state politics, activities against state militarism and war, an autonomous theatre, and many other political and cultural projects, over to real-estate speculation and eviction. In fact, Walter Baier and the KPÖ had decided a little more than a week beforehand to sell the buildings that housed the EKH, which would doubtlessly mean (in light of the repressive Austrian political context) the end of the social center. (See the text below for details.) The intervention concluded with a more general critique of the way that slimy policians have co-opted and profited from social dissent, even though they themselves are constantly trying to kill all that which escapes their hierarchical, reformist, and institutional structures. The outraged audience member then urged the entire audience to take a stand against this co-optation by following his example and ripping up their ESF accreditation passes in protest.

After this first intervention, in french, which left Baier and the audience speechless, a second audience member marched down to the stage to stand behind Baier and to explain the whole situation in english. Finally, a third audience member ran down to the stage, took the mike, and shouted, “Herr Baier, Wer verkaufen will, ist schön verkauft! Warum rauswerfen sie die Infoladen X, Volxbibliothek, Archiv der sozialen Bewegungen, Queerbeisl, unzumutbar, Frauenschreibwerkstatt, Zeitung tatblatt, Zeitung Voice of Vienna, Zeitung rapiditè, Siebdruckwerkstatt, Metall und Fahrrradwerkstatt, Tonstudio, Proberume für Bands, Filmgruppe Kinoki, Konzertsaal, Bühne des Volxtheater Favoriten, Rume der ATGF, des Dachverbandes der jugoslawischen Vereine in Wien, des Vereins fr Gegenkultur — wir sind alle gegenkultur! –, Zwei Stockwerke autonomer Wohnbereich, und ein Stockwerk Fluchtlingsnotquartiere des Flughafensozialdienstes? Herr Baier, warum rauswerfen sie das?” These interventions were punctuated by supportive applause from the audience, who for the most part were eager to learn more and to obtain copies of a trilingual flyer that was handed out among the audience members.

Finally, Walter Baier, mortified, attempted to justify the decision to sell the EKH, explaining that the mean leftist autonomen hadn’t asked their permission before squatting the Communist Party headquarters (which apparently had been empty for a long time and has now been squatted — legally, with a contract — for fourteen years) and that the KPÖ was not very rich and had certain fiscal necessities. His entire response was recorded and filmed by Indymedia UK and Indymedia Germany journalists, who were present in the audience. So as to appear conciliatory to the audience, Walter Baier declared that now the KPÖ was going to try to find a solution that would be reasonable for all the parties involved. Trying to polish his image, he mentioned that the KPÖ was very supportive of the Publixtheatre Caravan, which had spent a month in an Italian prison in the course of their no-border tour for freedom of movement, summer 2001. But the recent past has shown that Walter Baier cannot be trusted and that other actions will be necessary to put pressure on the KPÖ to save the EKH. The audience responded with polite applause, during which an audience member cried out, “Keine finanzielle sicherheit ohne wohnsicherheit! Le logement n’est pas une marchandise! The EKH is not for sale!”

Shortly after Baier’s speech, another audience member stood up to call the French Communist Party, which had organized the whole seminar, to task about the eviction of the “La Charade” squat, which had housed political and cultural activities specifically antiracist activities, in Saint-Martin d’Hères, which is in the suburbs of Grenoble, France. In this squat, there was a free public library, a free shop, public debates, film nights, feminist activities and political actions. It was evicted last June by the communist mayor of St-Martin d’Hères, which owned the property, even though the communist party and the municipality had absolutely no use intended for the building. This intervention was greeted with applause and an audience member shouted “Solidarité avec la Charade!”

After the seminar was over, the third audience member who had intervened against Walter Baier’s speech descended to the stage to speak with him personally, but he disappeared quietly out the back door.

Also during the European Social Forum, the “NO VOX” activit network opened a political squat in Paris to serve as a forum for different social movements. Paris itself, a city with a long and proud history of “artists’ squats” that have become important community cultural centers, is currently engaging in the same practice that is happening all over Europe: political squats are being quietly, and violently, evicted in massive waves of repression. For a full report on the NO VOX squat, see Indymedia-Paris.

Here is the text of the flyer that was distributed among audience members during the seminar, first in english, then german, then french:

Walter Baier, chairman of the KPOE ( communist party of Austria) and delegate of the Austrian Social Forum will participate at the European Social Forum from the 12th-15th of Nov. 03 in Paris. Following a decision taken this week by the KPOE, the KPOE wants to sell off the Ernst Kirchweger Haus (EKH), the only Social Center in Austria. This deal would be the end of the EKH. The EKH was squatted in 1990 and house residents have contracts with the KPOE to legally occupy the building. In a first informal dialogue on Nov. 4th between Baier and the residents, Baier emphasized that the sale of the house is only an option and far from fixed. However, by Nov. 5th the central committee of the KPOE had already decided the sale. The KPOE is leaving many different Left political groups to the mercy of real estate speculation. An eviction would affect more than 27 different groups involved in antifascist, anti(hetero)sexist, and antiracist activities, in (counter)culture, music, migration, organization of Sans Papiers (refugees without residence papers), collective forms of living, a community library, a community theatre company, an archive of documents of social movements, info-shop, and much more. Organisations and activities : Infoshop X, People’s Library, Archive of Social Movements, Queerbeisl, the Unreasonable group, Women’s Writing Workshop, Tatblatt newspaper, Voice of Vienna newspaper, Rapiditè newspaper, a printing workshop, a metalwork and bicycle workshop, a sound studio, practice room for bands, Kinoki cinema, a concert hall, the Publixtheatre of Favoriten, ATGF, the umbrella organization of the Yugoslav associations in Vienna, Association for Counter-culture, two floors of self-managed living quarters, and emergency housing for refugees referred by the social services at the airport.

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Am Social Forum in Paris vom 12. ^Ö 15.11.03 wird Walter Baier Vorsitzender der KPÖ (Kommunistische Partei Österreich) und Vertreter des Social Forum Austria teilnehmen. Nach einem Beschluß von dieser Woche will die KPÖ das einzige soziale Zentrum EKH in Österreich verkaufen, was somit das Aus für dieses Haus bedeutet. Das EKH wurde 1990 besetzt und einzelne Bereiche haben Verträge mit der KPÖ. In dem ersten inoffiziellen Gespräch am 04.11.03 mit den NutzerInnen des EKH betonte Walter Baier dass der Verkauf des Hauses lediglich eine Option, aber lange noch nicht feststehen würde. Bereits am 05.11.03 wurde im Zentralkomitee der KPÖ der Verkauf beschlossen. Dadurch überlässt die KPÖ verschiedenste linke politische Projekte der Immobilienspekulation. Durch eine Räumung wären über 27 verschiedene Gruppen aus den Bereichen Antifaschismus, Antirassismus, Anti (hetero)sexismus, Kultur, Musik, Sans Papiers, kollektives Wohnen, Bibliothek, Archiv, Infoladen, Gegenkultur, Migration und viele mehr betroffen. Infoladen X, Volxbibliothek, Archiv der sozialen Bewegungen, queerbeisl, unzumutbar, Frauenschreibwerkstatt, Zeitung tatblatt, Zeitung Voice of Vienna, Zeitung rapiditè, Siebdruckwerkstatt, Metall und Fahrrradwerkstatt, Tonstudio, Proberäume für Bands, Filmgruppe Kinoki, Konzertsaal, Bühne des Volxtheater Favoriten, Räume der ATGF, des Dachverbandes der jugoslawischen Vereine in Wien, des Vereins für Gegenkultur, Zwei Stockwerke autonomer Wohnbereich, Ein Stockwerk Flüchtlingsnotquartiere des Flughafensozialdienstes

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Au Forum Social de Paris, qui se tiendra du 12 au 15 novembre 2003, participera Walter Baier, président du KPÖ (Parti Communiste Autrichien) et représentant du Forum Social Autrichien. D’après une résolution datant de cette semaine, le KPÖ veut vendre le seul centre social d’Autriche, EKH, ce qui signifierait la fin du projet. Le EKH est occupé depuis 1990, et certaines parties ont un contrat avec le KPÖ. Lors d’un entretien non officiel le 4 novembre, Walter Baier affirmait aux usagèrEs du EKH que la vente de la maison était une possibilité, mais qu’elle n’interviendrait pas avant longtemps. Or, dès le 5 novembre, le comité central du KPÖ décidait de la vente. Ce faisant, le KPÖ confie la survie de nombreux projets politiques de gauche à la spéculation immobilière. Une expulsion toucherait plus de 27 groupes et organisations intervenant dans les domaines de l’antifascisme, l’antiracisme, l’anti(hétéro)sexisme, la culutre, la musique, des sans-papiers, du logement collectif, une bibliothèque, des archives, un infoshop, contre-culutre, migration, etc, etc. Organisations et activités: Infoladen X, Bibliothèque populaire, Archives du mouvement social, Queerbeisl, Insoumissables, Atelier d’écriture des femmes, Revue tatblatt, Revue Voice of Vienna, Revue rapiditè, Atelier de sérigraphie, Atelier vélo et métal, Studio son, Salles de répétition pour les groupes, Filmgruppe Kinoki, Sale de concert, scène du théatre populaire Favoriten, Sales pour les ATGF, le reseau qui comprend tous des associations yougoslaves de Vienne, l’Association pour une contre-culutre, deux étages de domaine d’habitation autonome, et un étage de logement d’urgence pour les réfugiés du service social de l’aéroport.

To contact EKH: ekhaus [at] angelfire [dot] com