Ljubljana. Slovenia. Statement by Autonomous Factory Rog on the lies of the municpality of Ljubljana in court.
Originally published by Komunal.
ABSTRACT OF A PUBLIC STATEMENT:
THE LIES OF THE MUNICIPALITY OF LJUBLJANA IN COURT
We received the minutes (record notes) of the court hearing, dated 24 September 2020, from the District Court in Ljubljana, a hearing of the representative of the Municipality of Ljubljana (MOL) and two former Autonomous Factory Rog users. The target of the mayor’s accusations are again the same people, despite their unenviable economic situation, whom the municipality decided to agonize, financially and otherwise, via court procedures two years ago. At the hearing Zoran Janković (mayor) and Jože Klavdij Novak (MOL attorney) laid false accusations that the former users still live in Rog despite the court’s ban, incorrectly reported about the Autonomous Factory Rog (AF Rog) and told many lies at the expense of both interrogated.
It is clear that with such a maneuver the municipality is trying to put pressure on the rest of the AF Rog community through former users. In response to this, we want to expose the lies of J. K. Novak and Z. Janković, the lies which are recorded as testimony in the court record. We also believe that the purpose of this testimony is just another futile attempt to achieve the eviction of AF Rog. We urge the court to examine the accuracy of the statements made by MOL, whereby it will arrive at the nonsense and contradictions of the statements of J. K. Novak and Z. Janković and come to the conclusion that they testified falsely.
Firstly J. K. Novak and Z. Janković testified about the fire incident that happened on 15.01.2019, stating that one of the accused ex-users is still living there and that it was his apartment that caught fire. These claims are evidently false as the person has never been using this specific space in the past and is not present in any place in AF Rog since 2018. This is clear also from police records done on the night of the fire and from news media reports.
MOL attorney J.K. Novak also accused the second ex-user of AF Rog that on the day of the fire, he saw him, claiming he was sleeping there. While at first he stated he saw him exiting the building, he later stated he saw him enter the building. The statements are contradictory and thus clearly untrue. The person in question came to AF Rog at night, responding to the call for help by friends there. Since he was in the vicinity, the solidary response by coming to help was only normal. Even though the authorities are trying hard to divide and isolate us, we stay closely knit in solidarity to fight for a space for the poor and marginalized in the gentrified city of Ljubljana. We strongly condemn this attempt of criminalization of solidarity.
The mayor and MOL lawyer repeatedly stated that Rog is closed for the public and that they have no possibility to examine the buildings, which is another attempt of manipulating the court on the actual facts. Also they state that the space is privatized, inaccessible for inhabitants and visitors of Ljubljana and closed for inspectors, implying that the space is not used in a way that would be of public interest and that it is a safety and health hazard. Firstly, the premises in AF Rog are intended for various activities, the doors are locked due to the equipment: computers, sports gear, artworks and production materials, documentation, kitchenware, etc., which are necessary for various programs and activities happening in AF Rog. The spaces are open for the public when activities are held and are free of charge for all, thus performing their social function of a public nature. What’s more: the spaces are open to socially critical and non-commercial content and individuals who do not have access to the institutional scene, such as various artists, cultural figures, marginal groups and others who have found and chosen AF Rog as their refuge and space from where they can make a positive contribution to our society in their own way.
It is also important to note that the AF Rog community in fact began to lock the premises more conscientiously after the explicit act of violence of the Municipality of Ljubljana, ie. after a nighttime intrusion and physical attack by Valina security guards ordered by MOL in June 2016. The attempted violent eviction of AF Rog community has introduced a heightened level of mistrust due to the experienced violence the authorities are obviously willing to commit against us to enforce their will. We want to protect our existence and our communal practices from this kind of aggression.
Apart from this we have an epidemic to deal with, so AF Rog was locked during the first wave of it. On the outer door we placed a notice with a telephone number on which we were available in case people brought donations for the homeless, in case of any need for solidarity assistance to our neighbours, and for other urgent matters. During a visit, the health inspectorate found that the measures had not been violated. J.K. Novak and Z. Janković first testified that AT Rog is inaccessible to the public at all times, privatized and therefore unworthy of preservation, and then falsely claimed that health measures regarding covid-19 were violated. During the first wave of the epidemic, the activities of AF Rog in relation to the rest of the city was adapted to the situation. We were closed in the same way as all public event venues as community safety is certainly important to us in the broadest possible sense. At the same time, we were looking for creative ways to keep the core community of AF Rog accessible to all those who found themselves in any kind of distress due to the crisis and in need of mutual aid. At the same time, we also used the time for restoration works, cleaning actions, etc., namely in small groups, at a safe distance and with all other health care measures that were prescribed (disinfectants, masks, gloves).
Z. Janković also states that he is receiving complaints from the neighbors. Here we know that some neighbors, despite attempts to establish positive neighborly relations, remain ill-disposed and persistently call the police and inspection. We can only influence this so much that we continue to seek dialogue with them. Trubarjeva street where AF Rog is located is a central street that is also visited at night. We simply cannot be held responsible for every noise that our neighbors hear. We haven’t had a late night party or loud massive events for some time. We ourselves have looked in the past for different ways to improve relationships with neighbors both through conversations as well as through invitations to acquaint themselves with spaces and the community, guided tours and other events. Unfortunately, some remain in their positions of animosity, as evidenced, for example, by a recent complaint of a violation of public order and peace, which was explicitly racist, as a neighbour filed a complaint to the police that “five blacks were in the yard of AF Rog.”
Their statements about cleanliness are also highly deceiving since the community has alone been responsible for keeping the place as tidy as possible all these 14 years, organizing many community self-organized systems for this and bigger clean-up actions. Recently MOL with its gentrification model established a new system of underground dumpsters, that are limiting access to public service of trash disposal to individual owners of cards that open the bins. AF Rog was thus cut of this access as were many of our neighbours. Therefore we are now forced to additionally waste our energy and resources to find new ways to dispose of our trash. Despite all obstacles we still try very hard to keep the place as clean as possible.
Z. Janković states that he is in a hurry to evict AF Rog because the renovation of Rog is a part of a project of MOL candidacy for European Capital of Culture. The Commission for the European Capital of Culture clearly stated that the precondition for the title of European Capital of Culture 2025 is a democratic dialogue between all stakeholders, which in this case is also the community of AF Rog. Despite the fact that municipal officials spread lies in the media that they are in dialogue with us, the truth is quite the opposite. MOL clearly measures its dialogue in terms of the number of court hearings and threats of fines, lawsuits and other violence. As long as MOL drags us and ex-users of AF Rog through the courts, there is certainly no real dialogue here. In this aspect Z. Janković himself states that MOL wanted to start construction works and was therefore prevented by the community; MOL tried to intervene in AF Rog again, despite the fact that the court proceedings have not yet been completed. This is an additional proof that the dialogue between the AT Rog community and MOL is not taking place. In the absence of dialogue, construction work began without informing the community living in AF Rog. The area was not adequately secured and thus again (as in 2016) with the start of construction work potentially endangered the safety of persons present in the immediate vicinity. According to the approach, machines present and information of the workers, the destruction of one of the oldest cherry trees in Ljubljana, a tree that means a lot to our community, was planned as part of the works, and we wanted to protect it as well. Therefore, with a protest against this kind of intervention in AF Rog, we wanted to protect people and the old cherry.
All documents, journalistic articles, inspection reports, police reports, photographs and other evidence connected to this statement are kept in AF Rog.
To conclude, let us emphasize once again that the mayor and his lawyer were constantly entangled in contradictory lies while declaring disinformation in court. Their aim was clear: to discredit and turn public opinion against AF Rog, to destroy the community that is currently creating in the former factory and in any case to impose another megalomaniac project on the city of Ljubljana, which will centralize and take control of cultural production currently carried out in our premises. AF Rog remains one of the few places in the city center where the tentacles of the mayor’s cronies do not yet have access, control and authority.
We are a community space that shares this piece of liberated territory with all those who have been pushed out, erased and forgotten by the Municipality through its consumer-oriented management of Ljubljana. If anyone can be blamed for non-transparency and closedness, it is the mayor and his clientelistic circles and businesses that we citizens do not have insight into even though they are supposed to be about the management of our city. If anything is clear, it is that Zoran Janković, despite his “left” proclamation, is getting by well, not least in cooperating with the current right-wing government, as there is only one interest for them all – capital.
We remain at the barricades for the city, for the people, for a city for everyone, for our city!
We won’t give up AF Rog for a construction pit!
Autonomous Factory Rog, October 13, 2020.
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