Tag Archives: homelessness

Criminalizing Homelessness (and a Lot of Other Things) in Hungary

Dear International Friends,

As you already know, the Hungarian Parliament will vote on an amendment to the Constitution that would encode the criminalization of homelessness into the fundamental law of the country.
In addition to penalizing poverty, the Constitution will also introduce a very restricted definition of family, limit the freedom of movement of students and seriously curtail the right and authority of the Constitutional Court, which so far has been a safeguard of democracy.
Please help us put as much pressure as possible on the Hungarian Parliament not to pass the amendment. 
 
Below, you can find a lot of useful information about the proposed amendment and its negative implications for democracy in Hungary:
* Please watch the video by homeless activists of the City is for All about the proposed amendment.

How can YOU help us?

If you live in Hungary, join the demonstrations organized by several organization and citizens against the 4th amendment of the Fundamental Law on March 9, 2013 at 3pm in Alkotmány utca! Spread the news, invite your friends!

If you live in the European Union, alert your representatives in the European Parliament to this issue and ask them to exert pressure on the Hungarian government to repeal the amendment!

If you are an official or decision-maker in the EU, the UN or other international organizations, please go out of your way to publicly condemn the Hungarian government and pressure them to repeal the amendment.

If you are an activist or member of an international organization, ask them to publicly condemn the Hungarian government for punishing its poorest and most vulnerable citizens!

If you live anywhere in the world and have good contacts with the press, let them know about this issue and ask them to report it extensively!

Thank you,
_____

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Filed under activism, film and video, international affairs, open letters, manifestos, appeals, protests, urban movements (right to the city)

The City is for All: “We are not asking for free housing” (Budapest)

avarosmindenkie.blog.hu

On the 19 January 2013, homeless activists and their allies squatted an empty building in the seventh 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.

“We do not leave until the government and local authorities take seriously mass homelessness and housing poverty,” said Jenő Keresztes, one of the homeless squatters. “We are here to raise awareness about the tens of thousands of empty buildings, where homeless people could find their home. The majority of these empty buildings are in private hands, but local authorities also have great responsibility in leaving buildings such as this one unused for years. Instead of taking care of them, they leave them to dilapidate. This building alone could serve as a home for at least 10 families,” said Jutka Lakatosné, another homeless activist.

The squatters were supported by dozens of young activists forming a living chain at the entrance of the building as well as an ever-growing group of protesters on the other side of the street. The supporters were chanting slogans such as “Housing, not jails” and “Right to housing for all!” The head of the local authority’s real estate office agency visited the house and told the protestors that the local authority has no responsibility whatsoever either for homelessness or the abandonment of the house. Five hours later the police arrived in great numbers and arrested one by one the activists blocking the entrance of the building. The activists did not cooperate and therefore were carried by police to police cars. The supporting protesters first chanted “We are with you” right near the activists. Later, the police pushed them back where they could not see the arrests anymore, but they stayed until the last one of the activists was taken away from the location and supported them with loud drumming and chanting.

foglalás1_1.jpg“I do not have housing worthy of human dignity either, I am just temporarily allowed to stay in an otherwise empty building which does not have heating. Nonetheless I do not fight for myself alone: we would like everyone to have access to decent, affordable and healthy housing, and we want the government and the local authorities to take responsibility for this,” said László Dombovári, a homeless activist. In Hungary there are currently millions of people suffering from various forms of housing poverty. Ten thousand of them are living in the public spaces or shelters of Budapest. Around half a million families have arrears that threaten their housing, and every fifth household gets behind with their mortgage payments due to lack of resources.

The City is for All supports the demands of the homeless activists. We have organized several marches to raise awareness about empty buildings and demand their utilizationspelled out our related policy recommendations, and protested for the codification of a right to housing and the establishment of an extensive system of social housing. According to The City is for All, the implementation of a right to housing should include a ban on evictions without the provision of acceptable housing alternatives as well as housing policies that ensure access to decent housing for everyone. Right to housing would not mean the provision of free housing by the state, but that the state establishes and maintains a system of housing policies that ensure fair access to housing for all members of the society.

Editor’s Note. Thanks to the Reclaiming Spaces mailing list for the heads-up. The blog post above has been very slightly edited to make it more readable.

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Filed under film and video, protests, urban movements (right to the city)

Dear Mandela, or, The Politic of Human Dignity

www.dearmandela.com

When their shantytowns are threatened with mass eviction, three ‘young lions’ of South Africa’s new generation rise from the shacks and take their government to the highest court in the land, putting the promises of democracy to the test.

UPCOMING SCREENINGS

23 November 2012 – Wuppertal, GERMANY
19:00 – Autonomes Zentrum,
Markomannenstr. 3, 42105 Wuppertal
*Q&A with Abahlali members
TJ Ngongoma & Mzwakhe Mdlalose

26 November 2012 – Gothenburg, GERMANY
15:00. University of Gothenburg, School of Global Studies (organized by the Gothenburg Centre of Globalization and Development)
*Q&A with Abahlali members
TJ Ngongoma & Mzwakhe Mdlalose

26 November 2012 – Gothenburg, GERMANY
18:30. Hammarkullen Folkets Hus, Gothenburg
(organized by the Centre for Urban Studies at University of Gothenburg and Folkets Hus)
*Q&A with Abahlali members
TJ Ngongoma & Mzwakhe Mdlalose

27 November 2012 – Gothenburg, GERMANY
18:00 at Vårvindens Youth Centre in Biskopsgården, Daggdroppegatan 3, Gothenburg
*Q&A with Abahlali members
TJ Ngongoma & Mzwakhe Mdlalose

5 December, 2012 – New Jersey, USA
12:00pm – 3:00pm. Rutgers University
*Q&A with filmmaker Dara Kell & Omotayo Jolaosho
http://ruevents.rutgers.edu/events/displayEvent.html?eventId=74042

TAKE ACTION

5 things you can do right now:

1. SIGN AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL’S PETITION TO STOP FORCED EVICTIONS IN AFRICA: http://www.amnesty.org/en/end-forced-evictions

2. HOST A SCREENING OF DEAR MANDELA
To request a community screening kit, please contact us at sleepinggiantfilms@gmail.com.

3. LEARN MORE ABOUT ABAHLALI BASEMJONDOLO
Abahlali baseMjondolo, the Shack Dwellers Movement of South Africa, has a fantastic website with a rich library of articles and readings. Please visit them at http://abahlali.org/

4. DOCUMENT EVICTIONS
Our partner WITNESS empowers people to transform personal stories of abuse into powerful tools for justice, promoting public engagement and policy change. They have created guides for video advocacy—learn more and get involved with their work here: http://www.witness.org/training

5. BUILD THE MOVEMENT IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD
Dear Mandela is about a social movement in South Africa, but there are similar movements all around the world. Here are just a few of the organizations in our network that you can get involved with or support:

IN THE UNITED STATES:

THE CENTER FOR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change. http://ccrjustice.org/

POVERTY INITIATIVE at Union Theological Seminary:
The Poverty Initiative’s mission is to raise up generations of religious and community leaders committed to building a movement to end poverty, led by the poor. http://www.povertyinitiative.org/

PICTURE THE HOMELESS is an organization founded on the principle that in order to end homelessness, people who are homeless must become an organized, effective voice for systemic change. We have a track record of developing leadership among homeless people to impact policies and systems that affect their lives and our efforts have created space for homeless people, and their agenda, within the broader social justice movement. http://picturethehomeless.org/

The Media Mobilizing Project (MMP) exists to build the media and communications infrastructure for a movement to end poverty, led by poor and working people, united across color lines. http://mediamobilizing.org/

NATIONAL ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL RIGHTS INITIATIVE:
In partnership with communities, NESRI works to build a broad movement for economic & social rights, including health, housing, education and work with dignity. Based on the principle that fundamental human needs create human rights obligations on the part of government and the private sector, NESRI advocates for public policies that guarantee the universal and equitable fulfillment of these rights in the United States. http://nesri.org/

IN SOUTH AFRICA:

SOCIO-ECONOMIC RIGHTS INSTITUTE OF SOUTH AFRICA (SERI) is a non-profit organization providing professional, dedicated and expert socio-economic rights assistance to individuals, communities and social movements in South Africa. SERI conducts research, engages with government, advocates for policy and legal reform, facilitates civil society coordination and mobilization, and litigates in the public interest. http://seri-sa.org/index.php

IN THE UNITED KINGDOM:

WAR ON WANT is a brilliant voice for ending forced evictions and fighting poverty. They work in partnership with grassroots organizations around the world, and have for years supported Abahlali baseMjondolo in South Africa. To get involved, visit http://www.waronwant.org/

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL:
Amnesty International has a campaign dedicated to ending forced evictions in Africa. Learn more at: http://www.amnesty.org.uk/content.asp?CategoryID=11180#map

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The Politic of Human Dignity
Presented by Lindela Figlan at the Anarchist Bookfair, London, 24 October 2012

The meaning of dignity is often misunderstood. Many people only think of dignity in relation to the economic status of those who are better off. This is understood to mean that a person with no money is taken as a person whose life and voice does not count and is therefore a person with no dignity. It is also understood that a person with money does count and is therefore a person with dignity. But no amount of money can buy dignity.

Money can buy many things. With money you can live in a house that will not be demolished without warning, that does not leak in the rain, that has water, toilets and electricity. With money you can even give your children their own rooms. With money you can buy your children education and know that if they fall sick or meet with an accident they well be well looked after.

But money does not buy dignity because to be a person with dignity you must recognise the dignity of others. No person is a complete person on their own, that is without others. In isiZulu we say “umuntu ungumuntu ngabantu”. This means that a person is a person because of other people. Rich people are always demanding that other people show respect to them just because they are rich. They are always forcing us to show respect to them. The politicians are the same. But there is no dignity in forcing other people to show respect to you. There is dignity in respecting the humanity of others and in being respected back.

As poor people we do not live in dignified conditions. In fact when it rains we live like pigs in the mud. Our shacks are always burning. We do not have toilets. We are disrespected by politicians and, when we have work, we are disrespected at work. Security guards and domestic workers are often treated as if we are not fully human. Sometimes we are also disrespected by NGOs, academics and other people that think that they have a right to lead the struggles of the poor and who get very angry when we explain that for us solidarity must be based on talking to us and not for us and thinking and deciding with us and not for us.

But poor as we are we achieve our own dignity. Some people achieve dignity in their churches. Some achieve dignity through culture, in something like a choir. And we achieve dignity in the togetherness of our struggle. Our struggle is a space of dignity. Here we can express our suffering, we can think together and we can support each other. Our struggle is also a tool to fight for a world in which our dignity, and the dignity of all people, is recognised. Our struggle gives us dignity now and it also aims to create a work in which land, wealth and political power are shared amongst the people.

S’bu Zikode first called this a living communism, a communism that is fully in the hands of the people. Therefore our struggle is based on the idea that defending our dignity now is the best way to create a world that respects everyone’s dignity in the future.

Our struggle is a living politic. It is a politic that everyone can understand and which is owned and shaped by the people. It is rooted in our lives as we live them everyday. We do not see politics as something that should be left to political experts or dominated by political experts.

Before Abahlali baseMjondolo was formed the shack dwellers in South Africa were considered by government and some other people in our society, people in NGOs, universities and the media, to be the undeserving poor. This claim came as the result of the perception that the poor are lazy, uneducated and people who do not think and therefore do not count the same as other human beings.

The general public, civil society and the media could not defend the poor against this indignity. The media had little or nothing to report on anything that surrounds shack dwellers, be it good or bad, that considered us as human beings or citizens. We were mostly seen as a threat to society – as a problem to be controlled. When shacks were on fire radios and televisions would not air or broadcast this. On the other side the state would refuse any provision of basic services to the shack settlements or to engage us as citizens. We were always considered as people who cannot think for ourselves. Someone from somewhere else would always be hired and paid to think for us, to represent us and to take decisions on our behalf. This was the state mentality towards the poor. It was also the mentality of most NGOs and of most of civil society. It has also been the mentality of what we have called the regressive left – that part of the left that thinks that its job is to think for the poor rather than with the poor and that tries by all means, including calling us criminals and supporting state propaganda and repression, to ruin what it cannot rule.

The rights that we have on paper were always refused in reality. This included our rights as citizens, our rights to the cities and our rights to respect and dignity. Whenever we asked for our rights to be respected, for our humanity to be recognised, we were presented as troublemakers, as people that were being used by others, or as criminals. Our request to participate in the discussions about our own lives was taken as a threat. It is important that everyone understands that in this regard civil society and the left was often no different to the state.

Abahlali has been organising and mobilising to build the power of the poor from below. We do not organise people. We organise ourselves. When people want to join our movement we explain that they must organise ourselves and that we will struggle with them and not for them. We ask them to think about this seriously, to discuss it with their neighbours and, if they accept that we will only struggle with them and not for them, then we welcome them into the movement. It can take a long time to join our movement. You must understand it well and you must be serious.

We do not support any political parties or vote in elections. Politicians are always using the people’s suffering and struggles as ladders to build their own power. We have therefore decided that we will not keep on giving our power away. We build our own power in our communities and encourage people to also build their own power where they work, study and pray. Where possible we govern our own communities ourselves.

Our struggle started when we rejected the authority of the ward councillors and decided to represent ourselves. Today a new struggle is starting as workers on the mines reject the authority of the trade unions and represent themselves. We are hoping that the struggles in the shacks and on the mines and in other work places can come together. But struggle is very dangerous. As the poor, in the shacks and working in the mines, we are not allowed to think and act for ourselves. It is seen as criminal, even as treason.

We have learnt that this order is one that cannot respect our humanity. In fact this order is based on our exploitation and exclusion. This order is designed to oppress us. Therefore we have understood that, as Mnikelo Ndabankulu first said, it is good to be out of order. We are not loyal to this order. We are loyal to our human dignity and to the human dignity of others and when that requires us to be out of order we are prepared to be out of order.

We have dedicated a lot of our energy in building a University of Abahlali where we can discuss and learn together. Here we educate ourselves to refuse to be co-opted into a system that promotes the indignity of others. We educate ourselves to refuse to be shaken by the politic of fear created by the political parties and the police. In 2009 our movement was attacked in Kennedy Road and in Pemary Ridge. Many of us lost everything and had to flee. Some of us had to go underground. This attack was aimed at destroying our movement. A senior politician by the name of Willes Mchunu said that a decision had been taken to ‘disband’ our movement. However we are still here. We continue to exist and to struggle in the province where warlordism and assassination is the order of the day. We continue to try to make sure that the poor remain permanently organised and strong. This has helped us to build a strong voice for the movement. As a result of the power that we have built from the ground up we have been able to speak for ourselves in many spaces that were previously barred to us. For us it is important that, just as we occupy land in the cities, we must also occupy our own space in all discussions. This is the only way that we can take our struggle out of the shacks and into spaces from which the poor have been excluded. Of course this requires us to break the protocols that maintain power in certain circles by depriving others an equal chance to participate in these circles.

Today, as a result of our struggle and the struggles of other poor people, we see a slow shift away from seeing shack settlements as something to be bulldozed without any sense that there are human lives in these places. There is now recognition that there are human lives in the shacks. We have stopped evictions in many settlements. In some settlements we have won agreements to upgrade these settlements with proper services and houses instead of forcibly removing people to the human dumping grounds called transit camps. Basic services such as water and sanitation, refuse collection, road access, electricity etc which were being denied to us are now being rolled out. In Durban the eThekwini Municipality long had a policy that forbids electrification of any shack settlement in the city. The result of this is constant fires. Today this killer electricity policy is under review and a pilot project to roll electricity in some four settlements has begun. To survive day by day these services are needed and they are important steps on the road to winning material conditions that accord with human dignity. To talk about an equal and a just society without land, houses and services for all is bizarre. This progress has come through the years of struggle and the power of the organized poor. Of course we still have a very long road to go. And with state repression getting worse all the time that road is a dangerous one.

As repression gets worse solidarity becomes more and more important. We see the role of NGOs and progressive forces being to support and strengthen the work of what we call our amabhuto and the NGOs call social movements – to work with our movements in a way that respects our autonomy. We urge the NGOs to be responsive and to learn from those who are struggling about the best way to support them without assuming that we need to be given political direction or creating the dependency syndrome. In order to do so you will have to familiarise with the practices of the movements. War on Want and the Church Land Programme are some of the very few organisations that have demonstrated this culture over years. They have had to revisit their strategic planning and to remove the red tape that prevented them from being able to offer effective support when comrades are in jail and in need of lawyers, bail money or facing death threats and in need of safe homes. They have not wasted our time with donor requirements and protocols that sometimes undermine and compromise our struggles. They have never tried to impose their own agendas on our struggles. They have understood that the struggle for human dignity is often criminalised. They have understood that they oppressed have every right to lead their own struggles.

We know that here in Britain the working class and the poor are being made to pay the price for the greed of the rich. We know that you are under attack from a government of the rich, by the rich and for the rich. We know that you are resisting. We are in solidarity with you and with your struggles. If there are ways that we can support you please let us know. You are all welcome to visit us in South Africa. There are some ways in which are struggles are very different. But we face a common enemy in the form of the system that is known as capitalism.

http://www.abahlali.org

Sekwanele!
No House! No Land! No Vote!
Everyone Counts

______

_____

More than a decade after apartheid ended millions of South Africans still live in basic home-made shacks. We hear from the inhabitants as they eloquently argue their case for real citizenship rights. 

The shack dwellers movement, Abahlali baseMjondolo, began in 2005. Their slogan is ‘Talk to us, not about us.’ ‘It’s not that people like to live in shacks. No one will ever want to live in these conditions but they need to be close to their work’ explains S’bu Zikode, Abahlali’s elected leader. However, the group has not been welcomed by the ANC. They’ve been met with aggression rather than with negotiations. Police shot Mariet Kikine with six rubber bullets at a peaceful demonstration. ‘I’m not stopping to fight the government for my rights. Now they’ve made me brave.’ In the build-up to the 2010 soccer World Cup, Durban shack dwellers fear they will be bulldozed out of the city, or arrested. ‘This new legislation makes it a crime to build shacks or resist demolition and eviction.’ But the shack dwellers are determined not to give up.

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Editor’s Note. Thanks to the Reclaiming Spaces mailing list and Mute Magazine for the heads-up, links to the videos, and the text of Mr. Figlan’s speech.

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Filed under activism, film and video, interviews, urban movements (right to the city)

Tell Hungary That Being Homeless is NOT a Crime (petition)

www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/721/472/797/

Overview

  • Target: Hungarian President Pal Schmitt, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, 8th District of Budapest Mayor, Mate Kocsis and Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird.
  • Sponsored by: Concerned Citizens of the World

In Budapest, Hungary, the Mayor of the 8th District, Mate Kocis, recently passed a regulation that makes being homeless a crime. According to the BBC, homeless people can be arrested, imprisoned and forced to pay a $600 fine.

The BBC states that the only reason why this law passed was because the public did not want to deal with the homeless anymore. As this district is one of the poorest neighbourhoods in Budapest, this new law will have a devastating effect on thousands of people.

Being economically disadvantaged is not a crime and should not be considered one. But that is just what this legislation is doing: criminalizing the poor. The homeless need support, not to be considered as criminals or nuisances to society.

Tell the President, the Prime Minister and the Mayor of the 8th District in Hungary that homelessness is not a crime. They should be funding more programs to help these people get off the streets, not finding more ways to hurt them.

Petition

We the undersigned, demand that the regulation recently passed in the 8th District of Budapest that makes being homeless illegal, be revoked. Homelessness is not a crime and you should not be punishing people because of they are economically disadvantaged. You should be supporting them and finding solutions to help them get off the streets and live better lives. All citizens, regardless of class should be supported by their governments.

Please show the world that you support your citizens by getting rid of this regulation.

Thank you.

Sign the petition here.

Thanks to Comrade D. for the heads-up.

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Filed under activism, open letters, manifestos, appeals, political repression, urban movements (right to the city)

Protect Miyashita Park from Nike!

**Please show your support by adding your name to the statement below**

To be added, please send a fax to +81-3-3406-5254 or an email to minnanokouenn(at)gmail.com with: 1) your name and/or the name of your organization, and 2) whether you wish to remain anonymous or not. The deadline is September 29th. Messages of support are also welcome!

Your name and/or your organization:
Would you like your name to be kept anonymous?
Your message:

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

At 6:30am on September 15th, roughly 120 police officers, guards, and Shibuya Ward park officials suddenly appeared and closed off the entirety of Miyashita Park in Tokyo. After supplies were brought in, all entries to the park were sealed off with fences and blocked by lines of local ward officials and guards. Riot squad vehicles and over 40 plain-clothes public safety officers also surrounded the periphery of the park in a glaring demonstration of needless excess. Signs posted on fences read, “In accordance with provisions regarding prohibition of park use in Section 7 of the Shibuya Ward Public Parks Ordinance, use of Shibuya Ward Miyashita Park is currently prohibited” and “Miyashita Park will be closed due to construction for maintenance”.

The closure of Miyashita Park took place without warning. That morning, one of the park’s homeless residents was injured when he was forcibly dragged out by 10 guards. It is important to note that the forthcoming “construction for maintenance” cited in the signs refers to Nike’s planned conversion of Miyashita Park into a sports facility. The sports goods giant will not only foot the bill for the construction but has also purchased the rights to rename the public park “Miyashita Nike Park”.

Originally Shibuya Ward’s planned start date for construction (contracted to Tokyu Construction) was in April 2010 but organized protest has thus far successfully resulted in stalling the park conversion. While Shibuya Ward is saying that Miyashita’s sudden closure is for “tree-pruning and garbage removal estimated to take about a week”, other statements made by officials to the press such as “We’d like to continue from there with the  construction” clearly suggest that this eviction is being carried out for the purposes of installing Nike facilities.

On September 16th, an order for the removal of tents, posters, artistic works and other materials belonging to The Coalition to Protect Miyashita Park from Becoming Nike Park (The Coalition), as well as a storage shed used to hold possessions for homeless persons by the Shibuya Free Association for the Right to Housing and Well-Being of the Homeless (Nojiren) was issued in the name of Shibuya Mayor Toshitake Kuwahara under Section 27 Item 1 of the Urban Park Act. The order states that “these properties (listed in the attached document)” are in violation of Article 6 Item 1 (regarding permission for occupancy of urban parks) of the same Act and, as such, must be cleared by noon of September 18th at the expense of the property owners. This means that the ward is preparing to undertake administrative subrogation procedures, as happened in past evictions of homeless persons from Nagoya’s Shirakawa Park in 2005, Osaka’s Utsubo Park and Osakajo Park in 2006, and Osaka’s Nagai Park in 2007. However, in each of these past cases, evictees were first given the opportunity to present their case in writing prior to the eviction following receipt of the notice demanding removal of their property. In the case of Miyashita, on the other hand, no such opportunity was provided. After warnings insisting on the “removal of the unauthorized property” were posted on August 24th, 25th, 26th, and 31st, the official removal order was issued suddenly and with disregard to necessary legal proceedings. Moreover, despite the fact that Article 27 Item 1 of the Urban Parks Act asks for the owner’s voluntary removal of personal property, Shibuya Ward has made it impossible for owners to conform since closure of Miyashita Park means that even persons who wish to reclaim their property are being denied entry. In addition, while the order for property removal was served in accordance with Item 3 of the Urban Parks Act (enabling park management to order removal “where, through no particular fault, the party who must be ordered to act cannot be verified”), as of September 15th Shibuya Ward could no longer justly or legally claim that “the unauthorized property listed” actually belonged to “an unidentified party” seeing as how two of the homeless residents of the park signed papers verifying items as their property. (A formal request to examine the Order for Removal of Property Belonging to Unidentified Parties was filed with the Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transport on September 17.) Then, on the afternoon of September 18th, immediately following the expiration of the set deadline for property removal, notices citing Article 3 Item 1 of the Act on Substitute Execution by Administration were posted outside of the park while both Nojiren and The Coalition received legal reprimands via express mail. The Ward is clearly acting in extreme haste.

Since we were made aware of Nike’s plans to convert Miyashita Park, The Coalition has openly voiced our opposition for the following reasons: 1) awarding use of this public space to one company for the creation of a profit-making sports facility will also effectively result in denying part of the public the same right to use the park; 2) the plan for the conversion was settled without informing or consulting ward residents and park users, and advanced in an undemocratic, top-down manner by the mayor and select members of the ward assembly; 3) if the conversion is carried out, then homeless residents of the park will be expelled and the public will lose an important space for free assembly.

The closure of Miyashita Park, the order for property removal, and the move towards an administrative subrogation all effectively undo with one fell blow the hard work, the artistic vibrancy, and the many discussions, events, and encounters all manifested in The Coalition’s movement to “Keep Miyashita everyone’s park”. The ward’s actions have all been carried out by strong-arm tactics under law enforcement currently preparing for the November 13 APEC Summit in Yokohama with tightened security measures surpassing those undertaken during the 2008 Hokkaido G8 Summit.

Shibuya Ward is obviously working closely with the police, as evidenced by the police department’s overwhelming presence on September 15th along with the fact that the ward official in charge on that day, namely, the Park Infrastructure Coordinator, not only stated that “all this has been cleared with Hirano (Shibuya Ward’s Security Department Chief)” but also demonstrated a need to call the police every time something arose.

Homeless persons are being uprooted and denied their personal possessions by this eviction at a time when the economy is undergoing a long-term decline and more and more people are being forced onto the streets due in part to insufficient job creation and social welfare policies.

We cannot help but feel that Shibuya Ward’s actions are devoid of respect for human rights and human dignity seeing as how: 1) officials are treating property belonging to homeless individuals (along with that belonging to The Coalition) as if it were trash, and 2) homeless persons who had been violently expelled were curtly told, “It’s on you to start looking (for a new place to sleep)”.

We resent Shibuya Mayor Toshitake Kuwahara’s collusion with a major corporation to turn a public park into a corporate advertisement as well as the antagonism directed at homeless people, which demonstrably threatens their well-being.

We urge Shibuya Ward to: 1) put an immediate stop to the closure of Miyashita Park, 2) apologize and offer compensation to homeless persons that were violently expelled by guards from the park, and 3) cancel the order for property removal and halt and all administrative subrogation proceedings.

The Coalition will not rest until the public has reclaimed Miyashita Park and Nike’s plans to convert it have been abandoned. Please show your support by faxing or emailing us to add your name and/or your organization’s name to our protest statement. We ask for all names by Wednesday September 29. Please let us know if you would like your name to be made viewable to the public, or kept private. Messages of solidarity also welcomed!

Email: minnanokouenn@gmail.com
FAX:  +81-3-3406-5254

Also contact Shibuya Ward and Nike (Japan) to voice your opposition! Together we can bring an end to this unjust takeover of Miyashita Park!

EMAIL, FAX, OR CALL:

SHIBUYA MAYOR Toshitake Kuwahara
Phone (English spoken): 03-3463-1234 ext.2454 – 7
Fax: +81-3-5458-4900
E-mail: mayor@city.shibuya.tokyo.jp

NIKE CORPORATION (World HQ)
Phone: 1-503-671-6453, +1 503 671 2635,
Fax: +1 503 646 6926, Fax
Email: info@nike.com
E-mail: http://swoosh.custhelp.com/cgi-bin/swoosh.cfg/php/enduser/ask.php

NIKE JAPAN
Attn: General Manager James Godbout
Phone: +81-3-5463-3300
Fax: +81-3-5463-3295
Email: info@nike.com
E-mail: http://swoosh.custhelp.com/cgi-bin/swoosh.cfg/php/enduser/ask.php

The Coalition to Protect Miyashita Park from Becoming Nike Park
Contact: minnanokouenn@gmail.com
Blog (Japanese): http://minnanokouenn.blogspot.com/

_______________________________________________
We are grateful for receipt of this appeal from the Reclaiming Spaces mailing list:

http://www.reclaiming-spaces.org
Address for messages to the list:
reclaiming-spaces@listi.jpberlin.de
info-page, access to archive, (un)subscribe
https://listi.jpberlin.de/mailman/listinfo/reclaiming-spaces

Visit their blogs:
http://www.reclaiming-spaces.org

Sign the statement to G20 in response to the global financial & housing crisis
http://www.reclaiming-spaces.org/crisis/archives/8

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Filed under activism, international affairs, open letters, manifestos, appeals, urban movements (right to the city)

Call for Solidarity against Anti-Homeless Legislation in Hungary

Dear Friends,

We are writing to you as members of the Hungarian homeless rights advocacy group called The City Is for All in which homeless, formerly homeless, and non-homeless people work together for housing rights and social justice.

A draft law recently proposed by the Ministry of Interior would allow local authorities to “expel homeless people from public spaces” and to sanction “sleeping on the streets”.

We have an ongoing campaign against this proposed legislation, and we need your help.


Please help us in letting the Minister of the Interior know that the adequate response to homelessness is housing, and not police harassment.

Please send the following statement (or your own personal views) to the Ministry of the Interior [ugyfelszolgalat@bm.gov.hu] with a Bcc copy to our organization [avarosmindenkie@gmail.com].

Dear Mr. Pintér,


I heard  about a draft law recently proposed by the Ministry of Interior that would allow local authorities to “expel homeless people from public spaces” and to sanction “sleeping on the streets”.

I am deeply concerned that the Hungarian government is taking punitive measures to respond to the problem of homelessness – measures that, by their very nature, are incapable of alleviating poverty, social exclusion and housing deprivation. The reasons for rough sleeping are to be found in the structures of inequality and in the inadequacies of social policies. As a result, these are the spheres in which change is necessary if we want to put an end to homelessness. Increasing the social housing stock and the level of housing assistance, and radically improving the condition of homeless shelters would  also be possible progressive steps.

For all these reasons, I ask you to withdraw the proposed legislation and stop the criminalization of homeless people.

Yours sincerely,


Please include your organizational affiliation into the email, and feel free to forward this call for others.
Thanks a lot for your kind help!
Greetings from Budapest,

The City is for All

A Város Mindenkié rendszeres műsora a Muzsikus rádión minden kedden 16 és 17 óra között hallható. www.muzsikusradio.hu
A műsorok letölthetők blogunkról is: www.avarosmindenkie.blog.hu
_________
As always, Chtodelat News gratefully acknowledges receipt of this appeal from the Reclaiming Spaces mailing list:

http://www.reclaiming-spaces.org
Address for messages to the list:
reclaiming-spaces@listi.jpberlin.de
info-page, access to archive, (un)subscribe
https://listi.jpberlin.de/mailman/listinfo/reclaiming-spaces


Visit their blogs:
http://www.reclaiming-spaces.org Sign the statement to the G20 in response to the global financial & housing crisis
http://www.reclaiming-spaces.org/crisis/archives/8

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Filed under activism, international affairs, open letters, manifestos, appeals, urban movements (right to the city)