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Activists prevent eviction of 80 occupants from Ixelles squat

09:35 09/04/2024

A mobilisation involving several hundred activists prevented the planned eviction of 80 people occupying an empty building in the Brussels commune of Ixelles.

The eviction, which was due to take place following a court application by the building’s owner, was cancelled in view of the size of the gathering.

The Rockin'Squat collective estimated the number of people who gathered to prevent the eviction at almost 1,000.

Located on Avenue de la Couronne, the building has housed 80 people, including 30 children, since the end of January.

The first eviction was due to take place on 19 March but was postponed until 7 July following an agreement reached at the last minute between the municipality of Ixelles and the federal agency for the reception of asylum seekers (Fedasil), the future tenant of the building.

The owner plans to rent the building to Fedasil in the future so the asylum agency can convert the property into a reception centre, but after the agreement filed a petition with the courts to carry out an eviction, which ordered the local police to pay penalty payments of €5,000 per day that it fails to assist the bailiff in carrying out the eviction.

“What all these people have in common is that they are in a precarious situation and have no alternative accommodation,” said Nael Daïbes, head of the Rockin'Squat collective. “If the eviction had gone ahead, they would all have ended up on the street.”

The bailiff, police officers and the mayor of Ixelles, Christos Doulkeridis, were on site when activists prevented the eviction.

“Any attempt by the police to evict them would have led to the risk of a riot,” the mayor told Bruzz.

“It’s impossible to organise the eviction without using disproportionate force. I have therefore requested the suspension of the eviction.”

According to Doulkeridis, the various parties continued to negotiate despite the court ruling.

“I asked the owner: 'Do you absolutely want to implement the court's decision, or shall we continue to negotiate?' He told me he wants to continue discussing the situation,” Doulkeridis said.

“Putting these people on the street only further increases the homelessness problem. We cannot ignore these people.”

Nevertheless, Rockin Squat remains sceptical.

“We have no solution for relocation, so we want to resist en masse to avoid being evicted,” explained the member of the collective overseeing the eviction protest.

“But we remain wary, because we still have no certainty about what will happen next.”

The Brussels-Capital/Ixelles police zone would not comment on the ruling regarding penalty payments for each day it fails to evict the squatters.

Written by Helen Lyons