As reported earlier there is growing resistance against several construction projects in Wuppertal, Germany. One of these construction projects is at Gathe, on the corner of Markomannen street. One of the buildings which will have to be demolished for this project is the building where the autonomous center has been located for more than 14 years now. The autonomous center is a self-organised free space where many cultural and political events are organised by various groups. Below you will find a statement from people who are active in the autonomous center, which was published in German in an activist produced newspaper. 10.000 copies were spread for free in Wuppertal.
The autonomous center is a place where people can organise themselves (sometimes for a short period of time, sometimes over years) and work together on cultural, political, and other projects. Daily operations of the autonomous center – whether it be a concert, a demo, a blockade, etc.. – are decided by the participants. The center is a non-commercial space, that people can use without having to pay for it.
At mayday 2014, the campaign “AZ (Autonomous Center, editor) will stay at Gathe!” will start with an autonomous mayday demo. The way we understand it, an autonomous demo means that its self-organised and unauthorised by the state.
The autonomous center has existed for more than 20 years at Gathe in the northern part of Wuppertal’s Elberfeld district. This was made possible after a long fight in the eighties, partially with militant methods. Since 1990, it had been located a few hundred meters away from its current location at Gathe / Markomannen street 3, where the autonomous center has been since the year 2000. In the eighties, the center was also located in the northern part of the city center.
Now the autonomous center is in danger of being displaced from its current location at Gathe. The DITIB mosque wants to build an islamic center, which will be partly at the grounds where the autonomous center is located now. It would not be a problem to construct the new mosque next to the autonomous center. A decent noise insulation would be no problem, and both centers could exist as neighbours. The autonomous center would agree on this solution, although the tight relation between DITIB and the Turkish state has to be seen critically because of the upsetting policies of the Turkish state. Specifically, the struggles against the authoritarian prime-minister Erdogan, the un-recognized genocide of the Armenian people by the turkish state, and the way the turkish state deals with minorities like the Kurds and the Alevis. But we are aware of the fact that many of the people who visit the current DITIB mosque have nothing to do with the official policies of the Turkish state and we hope that their number will grow inside DITIB.
But it seems like its also important to the city council to displace the Autonomous center from its current location. They bring forward the argument that its essential to build on the corner (of the Markomannen street / Gathe, editor). It gives us the impression that the district, which is close to the city center, will be up-valued at the cost of the autonomous center!
City officials stated that the autonomous center might “only” have to move to another building, but its completely unclear in which building they mean. That’s because there is no other building in the nothern part of the city center available for the autonomous center to move to. Furthermore, the city did not make a concrete official offer or proposal.
A displacement of the autonomous center would have severe consequences. The autonomous center is the only space of this size and with facilities in which its possible to organise many different cultural and noncommercial events. There are regular punk concerts, performances by singer-songwriters, electro parties, Reggae and hiphop parties, and there are regular film and info events about various political and social issues. The “people’s kitchen” plays an important role, and is a place where people can eat vegan food every Wednesday. The people’s kitchen only asks a voluntarily donation. All these things are organised without bosses or state money. The center plays an important role in many struggles in Wuppertal and beyond. The autonomous center played a key role in the massive resistance against nazi demos in the city. Beyond that, groups from the autonomous center are fighting against the Nazis and their infrastructure in the city on a daily basis. Another issue that the autonomous center is involved in is the constant argument about the national-socialist crimes (in the 1930′s and 1940′s, editor). In the autonomous center, there are also groups fighting against austerity and who are active in other political struggles. The autonomous center also has a clear position against racism and police violence.
The campaign, “Autonomous center stays at Gathe” will start at May 1 at 18:00 (06:00pm) at Gathe / Höhe AZ in Wuppertal. Before that there will be a pre demo on April 30. This pre demo will be a nightdance demo and will start at 19:00 (07:00pm) at Deweert’scher Garten in Wuppertal.
The City belongs to us all!
Take the streets – Out to Autonomous May 1!
18:00 (06:00pm) Gathe / Höhe AZ, Wuppertal, Germany
Mobilisation clip for the autonomous mayday demo 2014 in Wuppertal, Germany:
The article is also published here