Ghent: Will the Pand be sold to the highest bidder?

Three times squatted against privatisation!

On 19 December 2021, two weeks after the last eviction, we resquatted the heart of Ghent (Belgium)! Out of political necessity, because once again the voice of the people is ignored and the city and its puppets want to sell the Caermersklooster to the highest bidder.

For more than forty years, the building has symbolised the struggle of ordinary inhabitants of Ghent for the preservation of their public property and right to live in dignity. Opposite them is the interest of private investors and speculators, mainly interested in buying up heritage in order to make a profit. Even more than that, the building embodies the power of the people if they make their voices heard loud enough. In 1980, thousands of inhabitants of Ghent, squatters and sympathisers, took to the streets against the sale of the Pand to the private tourist sector. They won the battle and for more than 25 years the Caermersklooster was used for social housing.

Now, for the second time in half a century, the loss of the building is imminent. While so many people are looking for an affordable place to live, WoninGent has evicted the social tenants and the squatters and wants to sell the Caermersklooster. Ghent on sale! In addition to the property, many more privatisations of public property will follow, such as the Blauwhuis and the Arsenal site and hundreds of social houses. With our action, we want to denounce the cause of this: a failing neoliberal housing and anti-squatting policy, in which everyone with a normal or low income is driven out of the centre and literally put aside.

Do you feel connected to our struggle and would you like to help, even though you may not know how? Then become a Pandemist and bring fear to every capitalist! There is plenty to do: come and think, build, talk, do… Do you have an idea for a project in the Pand or are you just curious about the place? Then come along! You can contact us on hetpand [at] riseup [dot] net or come to the people’s kitchen on Saturday evening. Our address is Trommelstraat 1, ring the bell on the iron gate.

Squatted since 01/05/21
Evicted on 07/12/21
Resquatted since 19/12/21

Our demands

We’ve set out five demands for the city and won’t leave until there is a credible answer.

The city must stop the wave of privatizations of commons in the interest of rich investors instead of ordinary citizens of Ghent.

Therefore, our first demand is:
1. The Caermersklooster remains in public hands.

The building will remain empty for at least a year until a final destination is found and because the previous occupants were thus unnecessarily evacuated just before winter in full crisis, we demand
2. A social temporary filling with housing possibility

The center of Ghent has become extremely expensive and people are spending an increasing amount of their income just to be able to live somewhere human. Therefore we demand
3. A ceiling on rents

Everyone, with or without papers, has the right to a roof over his head. The city has so many empty buildings that this is perfectly possible. That is why we demand
4. Housing opportunity for every homeless person

Finally, in the past, squatters have often prevented plans and made projects possible for which everyone can now be grateful. Because Ghent has apparently forgotten the positive role of squatters in its democratic history and with power, money and steel now treats us like scum, we demand
5. The discontinuation of the anti-squatting policy.

Capitalism and the state do not give us a solution to the housing crisis and vacancy. That’s why we do it ourselves and won’t leave until our demands are met.

The Pandemists
January 2022

‘t Pand
Trommelstraat 1, 9000 Ghent, Belgium
hetpand [at] riseup [dot] net

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