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Saturday, February 20, 2016

Klinika to be Evicted

Yesterday, not two weeks after a vicious attack by neo-Nazi's, the Autonomous Social Center Klinika in Prague was attacked once again. However, this time it was not by Molotov cocktail wielding fascists, but by the state and its political machine. Klinika was sent a letter from the principle facilitator of its contract, the state Office for Government Representation in Property Affairs (UZSVM), declaring that it will not renew its agreement and allow Klinika to continue to use the space.  UZSVM cited zoning regulations (that remain the same as they were when the the original agreement was signed), that the autonomous social center is not using the building for its designated purpose as a health care facility. Their press release, in cold and callous fashion, also included a letter from the conservative mayor of the district were Klinika is located (Prague 3) that accused the people at Klinka of being extremists. UZSVM has obviously bowed to political pressure from open campaigns to discredit and evict Klinika by mayor's office and the state housing office.

The letter, claims that the legal designation of the space does not allow Klinika to offer the educational and social services that it provides free of charge to the public. This direct jump towards not renewing Klinika's contract at best circumvents, if not ignores, a process within which any occupant (Klinika) with the owners permission or the owner of the build itself (UZSVM) could change this designation through reallocating the space within an elongated application process that could take up to two months.  However, rather than offering Klinika this option they have chosen to wait until less than two weeks from the contracts expiration (March 2nd) to inform The social center that it they have “mysteriously” found zoning documentation saying we are not fulfilling the buildings stated purpose, and that we will have to leave the premises at the end of the contract. 

This letter was also accompanied by one from the mayor of Prague three saying that she does not want her district to be a “war zone” between left and right wing “extremists.”  But is it extremist to be attacked by extremists?  Klinika is a peaceful collective of individuals dedicated to volunteering their time to provide a safe space for people of all races, colors, creeds, genders, etc, and which provides non-commoditized services for the local community. Kinika offers free language courses, meditation classes, a free shop for re-purposed and recycled goods, a bar, cafe, space for meetings, internet radio, and concerts among others endeavors. In short, Klinika has dedicated itself to caring for not only the local community, but all people – regardless of race, color, sexuality, national origin, ability, etc. Perhaps this is abnormal universal caring is what the mayor considers as “extreme?”  If  this is caring for everyone equally is an extreme social and political position, then Klinika are proudly extremists.  But not violent extremists, and not in a war with the masked group that attacked Klinka two weeks ago. Yes, Klinika is politically active, it has created a political space were politics are practiced every day, and it organizes around the egalitarian issues its patrons are passionate about. But the Czech Republic  is now a free country, were political expression is legal – whether mainstream or in the minority.  It is an absolute shame that a peaceful group of people, volunteering their time to provide free services to the community, get attacked by a radical extremist group for their politics of caring, and then KLINIKA itself is vilified, becoming political tools to promote narrow political agendas.  Should the synagogue be vilified when it is attacked? Or the victim of sexual assault be blamed for being raped?  No, of course not.  Nor should Klinika be shamed – or evicted – for being the victum of a senseless and universally condemned attack.  This cold and callous response by UZSVM, the housing office, and Prague 3 does not feel like the response of state institutions in a democracy, nor that Czech society enshrines the right to free speech, free assembly, and free political expression as any true democracy should. 

In short, if caring about people is extreme, then yes Klinika is extreme. And if this “eviction” is not for political purposes, then why is Klinika not being offered the time and ability to change the buildings legal designation? Klinika is not violent, they are not at war, they only wish to provide a safe space for people in need and those that can benefit from their services.

In leau of this brazen act of political theater, Klinika asks all of its international comrades and sympathizers to stand in solidarity with us. To comment at your local embassies or consulates. To let them know that this is not what democracy looks like. Democracy is free language lessons, free political speech, and the right to offer a non-commoditized space to a general public increasingly in need of services states no longer provide and private companies charge too much for.  Please, stand in solidarity with us. Make your voice heard so that Klinika can continue to breath life into its surrounding community.    

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