Zagreb: News from the BEK collective

Around a year ago, an idea was born in Zagreb, aiming to fulfill the emptiness caused by a lack of free and widely accessible subversive content, and the lack of spaces to host it.

A building was squatted in Nazorova street 53, Zagreb, and around this space assembled the BEK collective with the vision of creating a social center open to the community, to be used for organizing different and broad alternative content with the focus on arts and political action, skills exchange, creating a self-sustainable platform, critical rethinking of society, raising awareness of the problems of autonomous spaces, and all that with the wish to spark some of the burning questions such as the rising housing crisis in Zagreb and Croatia, and the marginalization of homeless people, refugees and asylum seekers, and lgbtiqa+ persons.

Soon after opening to the public, the space activated in different areas, such as the public kitchen where vegan meals, made of food recycled from Zagreb farmers markets, were cooked and distributed, workhops (circus, yoga, composting, zines), DIY gigs, film projections, discussions, exhibitions, DIY festival, lectures, art studio, info shop, free shop, library, jam sessions, involvement in protests, and food distribution on the street.

At the beginning, the idea was for the collective to be a self-organised group open to the community, consisting of individuals who make decisions through direct democracy and implement them through direct action. The ideology behind this decision was based on self-sustainability, anarchism, solidarity, anti-fascism, feminism, anti-consumerism, personal and collective responsibility, and non-violence (towards humans and animals).

The events that followed, unfortunately, proved that the collective did not respect the decisions and founding principles, was not responsible, democratic, and definitely not in solidarity, primarily to the people who participated in building BEK and the collective, and not to the broader community either.

From the lack of structure which would make decisions based on the principles decided as founding values in the beginning, unacceptable ideas infiltrated into the space, disturbing the security and solidarity that we hoped would characterise this social centre. Individuals who, using their autorithative behaviour and manipulation, blocked decision-making through direct democracy, disturbed the trust and cooperation in action, and since the beginning have pushed away and rejected the politically active, capable and responsible people from the project. As well, one of the key problems was irresponsibility towards the collective members, the space, the animals, and the things and resources of the community which helped with the money, tools, knowledge, and skills in solidarity with the project. The apathy and apoliticalness, and the visible yearning of some collective members for self-fulfillment and securing their own existence led to dismissal and non- questioning of important topics and problems that continued to rise – sexism, accusations of sexual assualt, attacks with cold weapons, verbal violence, negligence of the animals, destroying equipment and tools, removing the banner which meant our political stance in struggle against the capitalist system, stealing donations for refugees, avoidance of communication and transparency regarding the management of collective money, pushing the interested individuals away from participating in the program through totalitary and almost fascist behaviour of individuals, endangering the safe space, laziness, lack of initiative…

For all these reasons, some of us who participated in the project since the beginning decided to leave the collective and let the public know about the problems of this space, which still looks functional from the outside, but is avoiding to deal with the key problems that spaces like this should persistently and unapologetically condemn.

We assume the responsibility of pointing out that we did not manage to turn our ideas of an alternative and safe, but subversive, space for the community into reality, and are letting all of you decide yourselves whether BEK is a space that deserves your support, and especially the support of autonomous spaces based on ideas of antifascism, anarchism, solidarity, feminism.

Finally, a huge and most important THANK YOU to all the initatives, organisations, autonomous spaces, bands, people who supported the crowdfunding campaign or donated in any way, individuals who supported our actions, invested their skills, knowledge, will, time and love into this space, thanks to the media who supported us and let the idea spread, THANK YOU and we invite you to keep on fighting, now with a lot more experience, and keep squatting and making safe spaces of SOLIDARITY where we will react to the problems of autonomous spaces and communities in time.

Let’s organize, cause together we’re stronger!

BEK kolektiv
Ulica Vladimira Nazora 53
10000 Zagreb, Croatia
bek_kolektiv [at] riseup [dot] net

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