Open call of The Autonomous Factory Rog: Against violence of the City Municipality of Ljubljana - for Open Dialogue
The users of the Autonomous Factory Rog are observing the statements and moves of the management of the City Municipality of Ljubljana with concern. By denying dialogue, refusing recognition of users’ activities, with financial sanctions and open threats of eviction, it suggests that the repetition of the 2016 conflict is expected.
Let us remember, at that time the Municipality attempted to vacate the factory premises and establish a construction site in the middle of the night with private security officers, but encountered a large number of users who wanted to protect those premises, in which they developed alternative culture, social and political organization, a sports program and other activities free of charge since 2006. Following up, these users appealed to their adverse possession rights and did not want to leave. The rights were later acknowledged by the district court in Ljubljana. From that moment on until the conclusion of the property rights lawsuit the construction work had to be discontinued.
The core of the dispute lies in the Center Rog project, which MOL is planning in the area, a concept with which Rog’s users disagree. After the unsuccessful attempt at violent evictions, they tried to find a compromise in the negotiations, according to which new projects would include the contents and organizational principles that were established in Rog in more than a decade of operation, but MOL refused any such adaptation of the project and instead, by unclear criteria, offered 500 square meters in new premises. Since the offer would throw out numerous vital collectives, Rog’s users rejected it, after which MOL has refused any further negotiations and attempted to rid itself of the users with property claims and steep court costs – 8 individuals who performed voluntary activities in Rog were loaded with a fine of 50,000 euros. It is problematic that the largest, legally and financially most supported municipality, disproportionately punishes citizens who seek to act in the public interest.
Not only is such sanctioning and blackmailing of the users unethical, it’s also unproductive, as it doesn’t resolve the conflict in any sense. At the end of the court proceedings, which would ban the activities of eight individuals, more than 100 activists, artists, athletes, skaters, refugees and young and socially deprived individuals will still remain in Rog, to whom these activities and participation at Trubarjeva 72 represent an essential part of life, and who maintained the facilities and associated infrastructure with their own work. Likewise, there would be hundreds of works of art, installations, and a multitude of musical and recreational equipment owned by the aforementioned collectives, left in place. It is impossible to imagine that after all the work invested they would agree to an expulsion without compensation, nor that the municipality could empty the premises by force without serious damages. In addition, this mandate is not granted by the court. Without dialogue and compromise, therefore, the dispute can only escalate into physical confrontation again - a scenario that wouldn’t benefit anyone in Ljubljana, and one which both sides certainly wish to avoid. It is for this reason that we, the users of AT Rog, wish re-emphasize the need for dialogue between the municipality and Rog. Unfortunately, the municipality is rejecting this since 2016 and behaving as if the users in Rog are nonexistent or that they would dissolve into thin air after the court cases would conclude.
In order to avoid new conflicts, we call on MOL to suspend the legal persecution of individuals and to agree to an open discussion of the future of Rog and the solution of the situation. We are convinced that violence can not and must not resolve a political dispute, and that it is in the best interest of the inhabitants of Ljubljana to find a peaceful, transparent and collective search for a solution.
Avtonomna Tovarna Rog
Feministični pevski zbor Z'borke
Kulturno-umetniško društvo Moment
Društvo kulturologov Kult.co
Ljubica Marjanovič Umek
Mojca Kovač Šebart
Jana S. Rošker
Matej Tašner Vatovec
Sašo Slaček Brlek
Maja Tašner Vatovec
Linn J. Koletnik
Tanja Lesničar Pučko
Metka Bahlen Okoli
Marjanca Ajša Vižintin
Klara Skubic Ermenc