[EMRAWI:] Köpi Statement – 22.03.2021

Our cur­rent situa­ti­on:

At Febru­a­ry 4th we recei­ved a for­mal let­ter filed in court from Star­te­zia GmbH to vaca­te the Køpi Wagen­platz (aka Køpi­platz) by Febru­a­ry 28th 2021. After more than 20 years, Star­te­zia GmbH thinks they can for­ce us to lea­ve Køpi­platz but of cour­se we have not left, and we are unwil­ling to give up our homes. Until now the first court date has not been set, but it is defi­ni­te­ly com­ing soo­ner rather than later. We have been under thre­at of sale or evic­tion befo­re, but this time, as gen­tri­fi­ca­ti­on and new con­struc­tion sur­round us, we belie­ve the risk to be more serious than ever befo­re.

Facts about the owners of Køpi:

Here are some facts about Star­te­zia GmbH, the cur­rent owner, who are the com­pa­ny pur­suing legal action against us:

Star­te­zia GmbH acqui­red Køpi & Køpi­platz in an insol­ven­cy auc­tion in 2013 from Novum Koepe­ni­cker Stras­se 133–138 under the direc­tion of Bes­nik Ficht­ner. Ficht­ner tog­e­ther with Sieg­fried Nehls had a side com­pa­ny cal­led Plu­to­ni­um 114 GmbH. Befo­re ren­aming it Plu­to­ni­um 114 GmbH, the com­pa­ny was cal­led Vita­les Alt­bau­ten and also owned by Nehls. Plu­to­ni­um 114 then beca­me Novum Köpe­ni­cker Stras­se 133 – 138.

In 2013 a new Novum Grund­be­sitz und Betei­li­gung AG was estab­lis­hed with Yer­vand Chuck­ha­jy­an lis­ted as the head of the com­pa­ny, the same owner as Stra­te­zia GmbH. It loo­ks like Star­te­zia GmbH trans­fer­red the owners­hip of Køpi and Køpi­platz pro­per­ties from its own com­pa­ny Novum Grund­be­sitz und Betei­li­gung AG, pre­vious­ly Novum Köpe­ni­cker Stras­se 133 – 138. All the­se com­pa­nies are inter­lin­ked with the same peop­le named as the owners in most of the cases. Nehls’ “flagship” com­pa­ny is Sanus AG and all com­pa­nies men­tio­ned abo­ve seem to be sub-com­pa­nies. Nehls along with 10 of his com­pa­nies cur­r­ent­ly owes 3,2 Mil­li­on Euros in tax debts in Zos­sen, a city offe­ring the lowest cor­po­ra­te tax in Ger­ma­ny.

Sin­ce Star­te­zia GmbH appears to be just a let­ter­box com­pa­ny based in Köln, we belie­ve they have no inten­ti­on to build anything con­cre­te soon, but rather lea­ve Køpi­platz land stan­ding empty merely for spe­cu­la­ti­on. In fact they have had a buil­ding per­mit sin­ce 2015 and are only acting now becau­se the per­mit is set to expi­re in Novem­ber 2021.

Why we take the thre­at serious­ly:

In the last few years we have wit­nessed dra­ma­tic chan­ges in Ber­lin whe­re self-orga­nis­ed pla­ces have star­ted to be evic­ted one by one. The youth cent­re Drugs­to­re in Schö­ne­berg, ope­ned sin­ce the 70s, was for­ced to hand over their keys in Janu­a­ry 2019. Fol­lo­wed by Syn­di­kat bar, a left sce­ne icon in the Neu­kölln neigh­bour­hood, was evic­ted in August 2020 after 35 years of exis­tence. Ano­t­her vic­tim of bru­tal gen­tri­fi­ca­ti­on was queer-femi­nist house pro­ject Lie­big 34. To force­ful­ly evict this land­mark in Octo­ber 2020, Ber­lin deploy­ed 2,680 cops and the esti­ma­ted cost was at least 1 Mil­li­on Euros. Does the city of Ber­lin real­ly want to spend this amount of money on evic­tions rather than fin­ding a way to pro­tect alter­na­ti­ve, self orga­ni­zed spaces that offer immense value to the cul­tu­ral diver­si­ty of a city?

The list of pla­ces recent­ly evic­ted goes on with Sabot Gar­den, Die­sel A, G17A, Frie­del 54 and Berlin’s lar­gest homeless camp at Rum­mels­bur­ger Bucht, Its evic­tion was mas­ked as “huma­ni­ta­ri­an” while in rea­li­ty it paved the way for the con­struc­tion of a giant aqua­ri­um park.

The­re are even more spaces cur­r­ent­ly under thre­at: house pro­ject Riga­er 94, auto­no­mous left wing bar Meu­te­rei who alrea­dy have an evic­tion date of 25th March 2021, youth club Pot­se and us – Køpi­platz. It might be a pure coin­ci­dence that the­se pla­ces are being evic­ted or threa­tened with evic­tion so clo­se to each other, but this wipe-out tac­tic has been used in other pla­ces around the world. Stra­te­gies like the­se ser­ve to try to exhaust and over­whelm peop­le and make it more dif­fi­cult to effec­tively orga­ni­se to sup­port each other.

An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us, we stand in soli­da­ri­ty with one ano­t­her and each end­an­ge­red pro­ject.

Our Way of Life:

We stron­gly belie­ve that non-hier­ar­chi­cal, self orga­nis­ed pla­ces have a gre­at impact on how peop­le think and offer an irre­pla­ce­ab­le alter­na­ti­ve to the way peop­le live, enjoy cul­tu­re and per­cei­ve the world whe­re soli­da­ri­ty rather than money is in the fore­ground. We have crea­ted a com­mu­ni­ty not only for living space but for peop­le to test ide­as, orga­ni­se art, skill share, learn and grow. We do not insist that ever­yo­ne must con­form to the way we live, but respect our choice to live this way. We belie­ve we have some­thing valu­able to con­tri­bu­te to the cul­tu­ral fab­ric of the city, and without us, and other diver­se spaces, the city beco­mes a homo­ge­nous wall of anony­mous glass faca­des.

Howe­ver, we are not the only one suf­fe­ring becau­se of gen­tri­fi­ca­ti­on, so are small busi­nes­ses, peop­le on lower inco­me as well as older peop­le who are being for­ced to the mar­gins of the city. Out of sight, out of mind. This needs to stop. We are not only figh­t­ing for our homes but for an inclu­si­ve socie­ty we stron­gly belie­ve in.

Today, Køpi is 31 years old. At the begin­ning this space was unliv­a­ble, but a small group of dedi­ca­ted squat­ters built what would even­tual­ly beco­me home to acti­vists, artists, musi­ci­ans, and freaks living in the house and Køpi­platz. We are also an auto­no­mous space for a varie­ty of collec­ti­ves. We have several venues for live music, per­for­man­ces, soli events, a cine­ma, info­shop, Food not Bombs kit­chen, prac­ti­ce and record­ing rooms, gyms, as well as bicy­cle, screen­prin­ting, and other work­shops.

In Køpi and Køpi­platz, we have spent years buil­ding up our homes, we have cho­sen to live in a way that defies the nor­mal stan­dards of apart­ment city life but we belie­ve the way we live is valid. We have main­tai­ned all of this on our own without asking for a sin­gle cent from the government or any insti­tu­ti­ons. It took time and effort to crea­te and we con­ti­nue to put all our effort into main­tai­ning and run­ning it day by day. We won’t sim­ply give up our way of life, built over years, for pro­per­ty spe­cu­la­ti­ons. We took an unin­ha­bi­ta­ble space and made it a vibrant living space, and we refu­se to see it bro­ken apart and left stan­ding empty for years to come.

Køpi & Køpi­platz stay united and the fight for our home con­ti­nues!

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