freetown - the end of more than 30 years ???
Help Christiania to survive!!!!
Christiania's over 30-year history is a long and tangled tale of struggles, victories and defeats. Many of the people who were in on the start of the experiment are no longer with us. But the dream of a life in freedom, and the idea of a city ruled by its inhabitants, is still alive.
People from far and near are still attracted by the Freetown's magic mixture of anarchy and love.
The tale starts in 1969/70, when the fence at the corner of Prinsessegade and Refshalevej in the quarter of Copenhagen called Christianshavn is knocked down several times by a group of local people to gain access to the large, former military area within. Now, the old bridge quarter of town is going to acquire a playground for the children of the neighborhood, and a green space between apartment blocks. However, the military and municipal authorities raise the fence again and again during those years.
Over time, however, the people of Christianshavn get their playground, while hippies, squatters and others get their Freetown, when the fence is knocked down for the last time in 1971, and people begin to inhabit the former military barracks.
Christiania covers an area of more than 85 acres and houses almost one thousand inhabitants, and every year more than a million people visit the Freetown. Some of them use Christiania almost every day, while others pay a quick visit to the village located in the middle of Copenhagen.
Christiania is thus one of the greatest tourist attractions in Copenhagen, and abroad it is a well-known "brand" for the progressive and liberated Danish lifestyle. Many Danish businesses and organizations also use Christiania as a show place for their foreign friends and guests. The purpose is to show something Danish that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
The legal situation right now
In spring 2002 the government (right wing supported by "Danish People Party" extreme right wing, and with them they are in majority) clamed, that if Christiania couldn't close down the hash market, they would close us.
As we considered the closing of the hash market to be police work, and that the government wanted us to commit vigilante justice, we refused.
On the other hand, we wouldn't fight the police if they tried to close it.
In spring 2003 the government claimed; "Christiania has disqualified themselves, as they wouldn't close the hash-market". Then they made an architect competition: "The future Christiania". It fell apart, as only 8 groups participated, and 5 of those used it to make statements pro Christiania , and the 3 left, had made proposals so far away from the introductory presentation it couldn't be used for anything.
In January 2004 the hash-market demolised down all the sheds, and makes the place back to 1979. In spring 2004 the police came at 5 in the morning, and who's awake at that time, and arrested 50 persons they thought were connected to the hash-market. Then the goverment started to work on a law, and in June 2004, they made Law L205. The main issue in the law is "to normalize" Christiania. Sell the property, build new houses, tare down all the "selvmade" houses, and make Christiania into a neighborhood like neighborhoods in the rest of Copenhagen.
Because what the government really don't like about Christiania is, that we have given up ownership.
To get the law through the parliament, not only with the right-wing politicians, they wrote into it, that the law had to be effected in participation with christianites (people from Christiania ). So we established, after 8 common meetings, area-meeting etc. a negotiation group of 5-8 people.
They have been negotiating with the Ministry of Finance department called "Palaces and Properties agency", in short terms called SES.
After 9 month of negotiations, SES made a report. It contained some of our claims, and a lot unacceptable things. So our two fantastic lawyers, Knud Foldschack and Lulla Forchhammer, made a short list of questions from Christiania, that we need to be answered before we can go further in the negotiations. This because of SES has written a lot, without promising anything ... do we know that from politicians?? So, we are waiting for answers this fall.
In the same time, the law L205 had put a limit to a demand, saying, "All christianites has to register their rights of property before July 1st". The Government hoped that the demand would make most christianites demand their right of their property. But how can one declare demands of a property that are collective owned?? We (Christiania) made a huge work in June, and made 99% of the christianites to register their rights in 3 offices made for the project, inside Christiania . And in the same time we registered the rights, we gave the rights to a society (just made) called "society of Christiania", and in that way we kept our collective rights. First SES claimed our way of doing it was illegal, but their own lawyers told them, there was nothing illegal on our way of doing it. SES has tried to make us register in their office, but only 2-3 did. The government had, when they wrote the law, claimed this "registration of rights", because they thought, that most of the christianites would "run and register" in the sense of greed and hunger of money, but they found themselves shooting themselves in their feet, as we not only registered but also gave our rights to a collective legal organization "The society of Christiania".
Christiania has since
1993 been having annual agreements, based on the law from 1989 about Christiania , with the government, but in January 2005 SES dismissed any further agreement. By that, they claimed to have cancelled all our collective rights, and now we "took it back".
So, right now, the situation is:
By January 2006 we don't have any agreements with the government.
If SES doesn’t answer our question, there will be no further negotiations.
And then we don't know.
If the government put "the soft glove on", some sort of negotiation will be possible.
If the government put "the hard glove on", and press through, with police enforcements, military ... what do we know, we fear it can blow up in incalculable situation.
We hope to be able to make them consider just once more. If the law is forced through, there will be no more Christiania.
They might call the area Christiania, but the culture of Christiania can't survive under their hat!!
After January 2006
After January 2006 we don’t know what will happen …
You can find a lot more information about Christiania here:
Christiania's online guide, with history, selfgovernment explanation etc:http://www.christiania.org/guide/?lan=gb&side=1
You can sign our petition here:http://www.christiania.org/~befri/gl.php3
A group of people from Copenhagen supporting Christiania.
They write on their homepage:
The citizens of the Free City (another name of Christiania) have proposed to set up a Christiania Fund that would involve the transfer of ownership rights to Christiania by title deed, thereby formalizing its existing status. The Fund would enable Christiania to continue to manage its assets collectively in constructive dialogue with public authorities. The key principles of Christiania could be preserved: there would be no land or property speculation, social considerations could be safeguarded and it could continue to develop in alternative ways than the surrounding luxury and upscale building projects with largely absentee owners. Christiania wants to open up for new initiatives that would include wider population segments, but these should not be imposed through narrow private property and profit motives.
You can find them here:www.christianiafonden.dk/#englishhttp://www.christiania.org/save/
The Prime Minister's Office
Prins Jørgens Gård 11
1218 Copenhagen K
Dear Mr. Anders Fogh Rasmussen,
I firmly object to your plans to dismantle the unique
Freetown of Christiania and I hereby oppose the
parliamentary bill L205 that aims to end the
self-governing principles of Christiania.