Belgium: Borsbeek Forest Camp Urgent Eviction Threat
EarthFirst! BE+NL support group
26 Aug 2006 11:38 GMT
After three weeks of logging of oaks and piecemeal evictions of treehouses in Borsbeek Fortress III action camp, many trees are still standing. The forest is being destroyed because they are in the way of Antwerp Airport, a small business airport which wants to upgrade and allow for larger planes to land. GroenFront! has occupied the forest, a habitat of endangered bats, to prevent it's destruction. A larger scale eviction is expected for this coming Monday (Aug. 28th). Over the past three weeks activists have been delaying the 'forest maintenance' significantly by chaining themselves to barricades or the logger's machinery and by occupying trees using walkways, platforms and swings.
Officially the clearcutting of oaks (there is no permit for other trees) is called "forest maintenance". This particular form of maintenance keeps about 40cm of the trees standing.
Police intimidation and unsafe practices
This has been done despite very unsafe cutting procedures by the company hired to do the cutting, with trees falling only a few meters from occupied trees. The police has taken its own share of causing unsafe situations incluing using pepperspray only centimeters from an activists' eye, trying to arrest people in trees whilst not being secured themselves and indiscriminateley cutting ropes. Over the past few days the police seems to have learned how to behave safely however and the indiscriminate use of pepperspray and pressure points have stopped after media exposure, public support etc.
There have been recent instances however of police threatening to use long periods of remand and at least one climbing harness has been cut to pieces by the police. Last week in a strange and almost panicky action police arrested 5 activists after a hammer fell out of a wooden structure when police was on site. One activist was officially charged with attempted manslaughter but this charge was dropped after 24hrs when the charge transpired and there was no legal basis for it. The occupiers of the forest see this as an example of ongoing police intimidation.
Next week will be critical for the site as the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) will determine whether Antwerp airport is 'Safe' on the 1st of September and part of the cutting permits may lapse. If there are still trees standing the airport may possibly loose its permit to operate medium sized jet aircraft!
Many people will be needed over the weekend and next to help building more barricades, walkways and treehouses and of course to occupy these during the coming week.
Call for Action
'GroenFront! (Belgian/Dutch EarthFirst!) does not accept that the biotope of endangered species such as the Natterer's bat must disappear for the promotion of destructive air traffic. Groenfront! has decided to defend the forest by means of an occupation.
Apart from a site with major natural values Fortress III, built between 1860 and 1864 and active during WW1, is an historical monument which dates from the time that Belgium and the Netherlands saw each other as potential enemies. Currently Groenfront! activists from Belgium and The Netherlands, amongst others, are defending the fortress together.
The occupation aims at physically preventing and delaying the cutting of the trees for as long as possible. Meysmans BVBA, the company hired to do the cutting, has informally indicated it will need some 60 working days starting from the 9th of August to finish cutting down the trees at Borsbeek Fortress.
We call on everyone reading this to help prevent the destruction of Fortress III in Borsbeek and to either go there themselves or help by donating (vegan) food and ecquipment to the people at Fort III in Borsbeek.
What to bring?
-Sleeping bag + matress
-Climbing gear (not neccesary but very useful if you have it)
-Extra pair of shoes
What we need
This is a short version of a very long list in dutch, we've only translated stuff which can be easily carried of longer distances.
If you happen to have a large truck lying around full of used wood, plexiglass, windows, steel tubing and tarpaulins we ask to take it to Borsbeek fortress. We will be eternally grateful.
-12 mm and 6 mm polypropylene rope
-Hammers & wrenches
-Dynamic climbing rope (NB only if you're sure it is still safe and know how to check this!)
How to get there?
Take the train to Antwerp-Berchem (direct hourly connection to Brussels and Amsterdam). After that take Bus 20 to Borsbeek, get off the bus at the stop next to the large Carrefour supermarket. The busstop is called 'kerkhof' (graveyard). Walk along the in the direction of the bus for a few meters and turn right at the streetlights. The big road will take you across the end of the main runway of the airport, turn left at this point on small road and you will enter the fortress
Follow the E43-A13-E313 Antwerp-Eindhoven, take exit 18 Wijnegem/Mortsel, turn to your right along the 'Autolei' road in the direction of Borsbeek, after 2 km this becomes the Frans Beirenslaan. Take the small road which faces the end of the runway and you're there.
The official adress is:
Frans Beirenslaan 2
On the fortress itself:
Walk through the fences, past the housekeepers' building, through the old brick gate. You will enter a large area with buildings to you left and your right. To your left (partially built into the fortress wall) is the building of the borough of Borsbeek technical services, walk past that building and follow the turn of the fortress outer wall, turn to your right between the farthest two rows of hangars. The 'Natuurpunt' office which is built into the wall of the fortress and which functions as some kind of base camp will be to your left after three hangars. It is visibly decorated with banners etc.