On Monday 19 March, Occupy Amsterdam received a letter from mayor Van der Laan demanding that their camp on the Beursplein be completely dismantled and removed by 10 am on Thursday 22 March.
Occupy Amsterdam has always been open to dialogue with the municipality and has always been willing to meet the mayor's demands within reason.
The mayor has indicated in his letter that he has always had pleasant conversations with Occupy. The news of the sudden eviction has therefore come as a complete surprise.
Van der Laan's letter paints a wrongful picture of Occupy Amsterdam. The demonstration is portrayed as attracting homeless alcoholics who create a great deal of public disturbance. The problems of alcohol, drugs and homelessness in the neighbourhood of the Beursplein however existed before Occupy, and will continue to exist after Occupy. Using it as an argument to end the protest is therefore utterly misplaced.
Van der Laan's letter is an attempt to end the occupation using a legal trick. He claims that the tents occupying the square are no longer necessary for the protest and are therefore no longer permitted. However, the occupation of squares using tents forms the basis of the Occupy movement worldwide. Van der Laan's denial of this goes against the very core of the protest. It is for this reason that we immediately filed an objection against the eviction. The judge in Amsterdam has been asked for an injunctive relief against the eviction until the objection has been processed.
Mayor van der Laan took harsh measures as early as December in an attempt to nip the occupy movement in his city in the bud. Only a small portion of the square was allowed to remain occupied, the kitchen had to be closed, toilets were no longer allowed, and Occupy lost most of its spaces for activities. In addition, only four people were allowed spend the night in the camp. This meant that Occupy lost a great deal of its capability to shape the protest, and to keep people unconnected to Occupy who were causing disruption away from the demonstration.
Van der Laan is playing a political game. He pretends to be the lord protector of the right to protest, all the while destroying the protest bit by bit.
Occupy Amsterdam watches with regret as politicians abuse the economic crisis to curtail the freedoms of the people within Europe and in the rest of the world. With the passage of time, we see the necessity to protest grow. As long as the government is throwing away billions to benefit the banks, as long as the population is squeezed dry and the grabbers grab, Occupy will continue to exist. Banks are still not taking responsibility for the crisis they cause and are even profitting from. At the same time, people's pensions are being reduced and cuts are being made in education, healthcare and culture. Poverty and inequality are growing visibly. This situation forms the grounds for our immovable protest. As long as the necessity is there, Occupy shall persevere!