South Africa: The ‘Boiketlong Four’ and the Criminalisation of Poverty and Protest

In February 2015, four community activists from Boiketlong in the Vaal, south of Johannesburg, were sentenced to 16 years in prison each following a community protest. This is a very severe sentence and the conviction was based on shaky evidence. The ‘Boiketlong Four’ were arrested for allegedly attacking the local ANC ward councillor and setting fire to her shack and two cars during a community protest. They were convicted of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, arson and malicious injury to property. This is an example of a terrible injustice perpetrated against black working class activists and could have dangerous repercussions for future struggles of the black working class and poor in South Africa if it is not fought. People need to be aware of the facts and take action to demand justice and to fight the criminalisation of poverty and protest.
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Precarious housing in the Czech Republic

kuncovka_brno_czech_republicKuncovka, an apartment complex 10 minutes by tram from the centre of Brno, the 2nd city of the Czech Republic with a prosperous centre. A five year old girl is walking her “dog”, a broken DVD-player, on the field at the front door. The power cord serves as the leash. Inside a group of 15 sits in a 18m2 room, the largest room of the apartment. In between the meeting children play with cardboard boxes, no toy in sight. 4 chairs, 2 small tables and a mattress are all the furniture there is. Coffee and tea is made in the bathroom, there is no kitchen.

Julek is our host. He lives in 1 of the 48 apartments in the complex. He tells us the dilapidated apartments of 30m2, without kitchen, are rented out for 10500 crowns (roughly 400 euro) a month. Last winter the owner refused to turn on the heating. He wanted to make an even higher profit. He often extorts the tenants by switching off the electricity. For 750 crowns (30 euro) he puts the electricity back on for a day.

The tenants lack regular rent contracts. There are monthly contracts which are tacitly renewed by the owner, even though these are illegal according to the Czech law. If you criticize the owner, the extortion, or the atrocious state of the building, your contract won’t be renewed. When the owner has a bad mood he refuses to give a payment receipt for the rent, which causes you to lose your housing benefits. [Read More]

Poznan: Three months in jail for eviction blockade

On the 27th of April Lukasz Bukowski, a participant of Anarchist Federation Poznan, Poland, went to prison for three months. He had been charged and sentenced with the breach of bodily integrity of a police officer which had happened during the eviction blockade of a disabled woman and her husband, Katrzyna and Ryszard Jencz, from a tenement house in Poznan, Poland. Lukasz refused to pay the fine, which then was changed to community work and then to a prison term. He appeared at a prison in Poznan where he will spend the next three months.
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October 19th: European Day of Action for Housing

Housing for people, not for profit!

We are confronted with a brutal European austerity regime which continues to transform our livelihoods into financial assets for global speculation, which violates the universal right to housing every day, which destroys democracy at all levels and has no socially acceptable solution for the crisis of capitalism. Not only since the crisis it is the poor and excluded who get hit by this system especially hard: un- and underemployed, homeless, precarious workers, immigrants, Roma, students, single mums, and everybody who is not willing to fit into a capitalist mode of reproduction. This group is now becoming the majority of society.

How the capitalist systems plays out in the diverse housing markets in Europe might be different, but the underlying logic of neoliberal politics, privatization and financialization of our homes is the same.
This is why we aim to stand up, to unite our struggles and to broaden our movements. We will not let us be divided by neoliberal politics.

Join our struggle on October 19th!

Hamburg: Open letter to Saskia Sassen

Dear Ms Sassen,

in an interview with the German daily ‘tageszeitung’ published on May, 25th 2013 you answered extensively with regards to your position as curator of this year’s international building exhibition (IBA) currently underway in the Hamburg borough of Wilhelmsburg. Throughout the interview you emphasize that there can be no talk of
‘gentrification’. You virtually refrain from corroborating your statement with hard facts beyond your repeated statement that the managers of the building exhibition show ‘goodwill’ and that it is their ‘declared aim’ to not drive out the ‘local residents’.
We were quite surprised to read this. Judging by a few of your texts which we have studied, it was our understanding that it is your intention to point out a growing polarization as a result of the development of ‘global cities’.
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Edinburgh: Another victory for Edinburgh private tenants as criminal landlord banned

Edinburgh City Council recently ruled that millionaire businessman Mark Fortune be removed from the city’s licensing register as unfit to operate as a landlord.  It is the first time that the council has refused a landlord application. It is now illegal for this individual to let out properties and charge rents.  The story is covered in full here:

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Budapest: Thirty housing rights activists arrested

On the 19th January 2013, homeless activists and their allies squatted an empty building in the 7th district of Budapest. The squatters demanded the institutionalization of a right to housing and an extensive system of social housing instead of punitive measures and overcrowded shelters. The activists were arrested and now face misdemeanor charges because of disobeying police instructions.
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