Squatters in Amsterdam lose free haven

Squatters in Amsterdam lose free haven

Creative living

The "Amsterdamse Droogdok Maatschappij" (ADM) was the Netherlands most famous cultural free-haven. A place for free creative minds that prefer to live in their own community with like-minded people.

Squatters in Amsterdam lose free haven

A free world

Suwanne Huyboom has lived at the ADM from day one. "I love ADM, I feel free to be me. To be honest, I don’t really understand the logic of the world beyond the ADM's gates," she told DW.

Squatters in Amsterdam lose free haven

Creative conversion

The grounds hosted several old buildings and warehouses that were used for the ships and boats. The inhabitants, mostly artists and creators, used them for their creative projects. After the eviction, the owner immediately started demolishing the buildings, regardless of what was still inside.

Squatters in Amsterdam lose free haven

Waiting for a new home

Padmini Peng had lived at ADM in one of the buildings for the past few years with her boyfriend and their child. The new terrain provided by the municipality has only just been cleared which means they haven't been able to build a new abode yet.

Squatters in Amsterdam lose free haven

Another bridge to cross

Bart Sabel and Tara Downs lived on a boat at ADM. However, they don't know whether the new grounds will be able to accommodate their boat. The sludge fields where they're being moved to are too small to replicate a new community like ADM. As a result the sense of togetherness and unity is slowly eroding.

Squatters in Amsterdam lose free haven

Moving out

Six months ago the Amsterdam council decided the community had to leave and that the municipality would have to provide an adequate location for the cultural free-haven. The ADM community petitioned the UN for protection who approved their claim and twice asked the municipality of Amsterdam not to evict.

Squatters in Amsterdam lose free haven

Starting from scratch

Inhabitants were encouraged to stay with the community until the UN had finished their investigation of the new living conditions. However, the municipality said it would not respect the UN's request. When the sludge fields were finally ready, some residents started moving their belongings.

Squatters in Amsterdam lose free haven

Moving on

Peter recalled how he had to sell his large camper van. Space at the new location is very limited, forcing people to get rid of most of their belongings. Peter bought a smaller bus and moved to the new location. He's resigned himself to accepting it "as a new phase in life."

Squatters in Amsterdam lose free haven

Putting the cat among the pigeons

Although an interim hearing to discuss the UN's intervention was scheduled a day after the decision to evict, the municipality decided to go ahead without waiting for the hearing. The police arrived without warning and residents were forced to leave, one by one. After hours of resistance Peter left with a few belongings and his cat, Monsieur Rouge.

Squatters in Amsterdam lose free haven

No way out

Outside the gate a crowd of evicted ADM residents and supporters gather to protest their eviction and block a car with representatives of the owner trying to get through.

Squatters in Amsterdam lose free haven

A tremendous loss

With the eviction barely underway, the owner started demolishing the empty buildings. Culturally, it's seen as a tremendous loss for the city of Amsterdam and the Netherlands. At this stage it's unclear whether there will be any repercussions for the city for ignoring the UN's appeal not to evict.

Amsterdam's largest squatter community spent 21 years on a former shipyard. Now they've been evicted, despite UN efforts to block the decision. The authorities' alternative for the 130 people? A polluted sludge field.