Thousands of people have taken over a community centre again in Iruņea old town

  • Over recent weeks a public building in Nabarreria Street in Iruñea (Navarre, Basque Country) has become identified with social struggle. Maravillas gaztetxe or youth centre –a self-managed Basque community centre– It has been closed several times by the Government of Navarre and reoccupied by citizens.

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2019ko urtarrilaren 23a
On Saturday, 19th January, thousands of people gathered outside Iruņea\'s Maravillas community centre (Photo: Ibai Arrieta)

Citizens took the building over for the first time in 2017, turning it into a youth centre closely involved with community life in Iruñea old town from the start, offering numerous events and services there. But the Government of Navarre has emptied the building repeatedly, using the police and force to do so, initially wanting to use the building for other purposes, and, later on, claiming that it was unsafe.

On 8th January, 2019 a wall was built to block the door into the building, and the police have violently attacked people who have protested against that since then. The people in charge of the community centre have stated that at least one hundred people have been wounded in the recent demonstrations, journalists included, and they have accused the authorities of "militarising" Iruñea old town. In fact, shopkeepers have also complained, having been unable to open their establishments on many days, which has led to them losing thousands of Euros. They have stated that they will take the Navarrese authorities to court over the matter.

There has been no end to the protests, and many events have been held in favour of the demonstrators. For instance, last week several people filled metal drums with concrete and stopped the traffic in the city centre for a long time, while others hung off a bridge and blocked a road in that way. Seven people have been arrested in connection with these events.

On Saturday, 19th January, thousands of people gathered outside Iruñea's Maravillas community centre and, after the demonstration, some people used an angle grinder to reopen the door, chanting “Take it over, take it over!” as in the video:

However, the police took the building once more on the following morning. Many people on the social networks have complained that the Government of Navarre has "stepped over all the red lines".    

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