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Police disperse ‘women only’ squatters in Laeken

© Belga

An empty building in Laeken that had been occupied by squatters since 16 April was cleared this morning by police.

The occupation was organised by the squatters collective Solidaire Opvordering, who intended for the building to be for women only.

“The aim of this solidarity claim is to provide stable and safe shelter and refuge to badly housed or homeless women in precarious conditions, with or without children and with or without papers,” the collective said.

None of those women were present at the time of removal, only people setting up for their arrival. Their removal went without incident and was done at the request of the mayor.

“The premises in rue Charles Demeer in Laken were evacuated at 7:30 AM after the mayor issued a decree to that effect. Indeed, risks to safety and public health were identified,” Ilse Van de Keere, spokesperson for police zone Brussels Capital Ixelles, confirmed to Bruzz.

At the time of the intervention, only seven people were present, according to police.

“None of those people wished to be resettled,” Van de Keere said. “For those who did wish to do so, contact has been made with city services.”

The 15 or so women with children in precarious situations for whom the occupation was intended were not yet present at the time of the intervention because preparations for their arrival were still in progress.

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“It was clear to us that we would not take in women with children in a living environment that was not suitable for them. Only the people who were preparing the place were there at that time,” said someone from the squatters’ collective.

“We are surprised by this eviction while the moratorium on evictions runs until Sunday and security risks have been taken into account,” the collective said.

“Moreover, there was some form of negotiation going on which was then unilaterally stopped anyway? We also wonder whether we should not have been warned. Suddenly, the police brutally pushed open the doors here.”

The collective states that an alternative solution was only proposed to the people who were present in the building at the time, and not to the other women.

“We were only given the telephone number of the OCMW (Public Centre for Social Welfare). We were not really told the reason for the evacuation. Something was said about the city securing the building itself because the situation would be unsafe for the women with children. But it’s not very clear.”

The building is owned by the city and had been empty for more than a year when the squatters’ collective Solidaire Opvordering occupied it last Friday.

The Brussels Times