The Hague: Pand Egypte squatted and evicted

Today (6 november) a recently squatted house in the Archipelbuurt in The Hague was evicted. The building is owned by the Egyptian government and served for decades as the residence of the Egyptian ambassador. After more than 10 years of vacancy it is in a miserable condition. Instead of respecting the domestic peace established by the squatters, the police decided today to evict the building under false pretexts. It is already the 4th unlawful eviction by the Haaglanden police force this year.

This afternoon the squatters of Surinamestraat 20 announced to the owner and police that they have been using the building as a living space since Saturday. The Egyptian ambassador and his lads, not charmed by the action, used threatening language on the spot. They thought that the building would be on Egyptian territory and that therefore no Dutch laws would apply. The police, who had been informed of the action by a written notification and by telephone by the squatters, confirmed after consultation that the territory table did not give cause for eviction. Nor did a situation arise that made it opportune for the police to evict on criminal grounds.

Initially, a discussion between the embassy police, the squatters’ spokesperson and the Egyptians was started, but when the Hague police force started to interfere in the situation, it soon became clear that they would not be taking the facts and observing the policy line on squatting drawn up by the Public Prosecution Service so closely this afternoon. Out of sheer powerlessness, it was thrown back into a ‘red-handedness’, even though it was the squatters themselves who had informed the police of the newly started habitation. A few of the local residents who flocked in, who were predominantly positive about the action, declared to the police that nobody in the street knew about the habitation, until friends of the squatters were handing out leaflets in front of the building. The police were asked why they did not want to accept the testimonies of the local residents and the photo proof of domestic peace (via the Twitter timeline) as ‘exculpatory evidence’, when no ‘incriminating evidence’ had been found that could support their false suspicion. Sorry, but we’re going to evict anyway”’, said the officer who refused to put in contact the squatters’ lawyer with the police boss.

The decision had already been made. Knowingly, the police refused to take note of the facts and applicable guidelines – once again, the ‘flagrant act is clearing’ criterion was abused. Again a building was evicted for emptiness and further decay. Again, the police acted as a free fight squad for an unwilling owner. Again, squatters were not given the opportunity to institute summary proceedings against eviction. At the end of the afternoon three people were arrested in the building, to which the police granted themselves access with the cooperation of locksmith Van Delft. They are currently being held in police station Jan Hendrikstraat, where they unfortunately have to spend the night.

07/11/2018 – 15:27 – update:

The 3 detainees were insured this morning, so that they can be held longer than the maximum 9-hour pre-trial detention period (excluding the hours between 00:00 and 09:00). The exact reason why they should stay longer is not yet clear.

Meanwhile, the message has been picked up by the media and the political discussion surrounding unlawful evictions by the Hague police has flared up again. Now that this seems to take on a structural character, housing law (constitution/EVRM) will come under pressure and legal steps will therefore also have to be taken.

Not only on the political and legal level, but also on the social level, yesterday’s unfair police action led to indignation. After all, why has the government not taken action in all these years against an owner who allows a monument to collapse in violation of the law and regulations, hiding behind diplomatic treaties, and is there then any capacity to suppress a citizens’ initiative that finally puts a stop to this with a lot of display of power? In other words: why does the police abuse the law to act as the protector of the ‘passive demolishers’ of the Couperushuis?

08/11/2018 – 11:32 – update: The detainees were released yesterday.

Some squats in the Netherlands:
Groups (social center, collective, squat) in the Netherlands:
Events in the Netherlands: