The city of Amsterdam has cleared a squatting community after they had occupied an immense property, formerly belonging to the Amsterdam Drydock Company, for 21 years. While no violence was used during the forced evacuation, boobytraps and molotov cocktails were found on site. Days before the operation, a UN Human Rights Committee sent a letter to the city of Amsterdam, asking to delay the clearing of the site as the occupants had not been offered a ‘comparable living space’.
Idiotically, Amsterdam actually has offered the squatters a new place of residence. Some of them have accepted, but others have made it known that the new property does not ‘meet their demands’. Does this work for a burglar who steals a TV too? They’ll take the stolen TV away from him, but give him a different one? And then the burglar will take the government to court, because “Your honor, I stole a 55 inch TV, and the one they are giving me now is only 50 inch”?
If nothing else, the UN letter has offered the squatters another legal avenue: they are now suing the national and local government for not giving due consideration to the UN letter and going ahead with the evacuation, which they say goes against ‘international law’.
The rightful owner of the property has immediately started destroying and deconstructing items left behind by the squatters. City council says the agreement was to allow the squatters some time to retrieve their possessions (because property rights suddenly do matter when it’s about their crappy art installations, I guess?), but the development company wants to make sure the squatters will not return to the area.
The UN letter is unquestionably the most interesting part of this story. Squatters don’t care about private property and as long as they are explicitly left-wing, governments tend to leave them alone for as long as possible. But what is the UN suggesting when it says the city council should offer the squatters a suitable, similar living space? Can stolen items not be confiscated from thieves unless the thieves are given similar items in return? Is this truly a human rights issue, or just another cheap political statement from the UN? Why do diplomatic monoliths that are far beyond the corrective influence of voters have influence over our national governments? Why do these monoliths make veiled or overt political statements?
Squatting has been illegal in The Netherlands since 2010.