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Press release Doel 2020, August 20, 2008

Flemish devolved government sends riot police to destroy the historic village of Doel

The Flemish Executive started last week with the demolition of the village of Doel on a massive scale. The historic village is situated in the vicinity of the Port of Antwerp. However there are still 200 inhabitants in the village who resist the demolition of their homes. That is the reason why the Flemish Executive resorted to sending a 100 strong squad of riot police to the village in order to force through the start of the demolition works.

The sheer brutality and heavy handed approach of the Flemish Executive has left the remaining villagers humiliated and the wider region in a state of shock. The streets are strewn with rubble, big ugly gaps appeared in between the houses. The village now looks like a war torn zone. But still, the villagers show resilience and announced to go on with their resistance in a bid to save their village.

This aggressive demolition policy also resulted in indignant reactions in several political parties. The media are now a daily presence in Doel and send images of destroyed houses and streets around the globe.

The Executive claims that Doel has to disappear for the construction of a new dock, named Saeftinghedok, however it is very unlikely that such a dock would ever be build there. Doel is namely also the location of a large nuclear power plant, and according to the Seveso-directive it would be irregular - not to say irresponsible - to develop an industrial zone or dense industrial activity so close to the power plant. On top of that there is a notable lack of road infrastructure that could carry such an influx of heavy truck & container traffic. Traffic is now already up to its maximal capacity in the region.

Most crucial, however, is the fact that there is no official decision made over the future of the village. On the contrary, officially it is still designated as a residential neighbourhood. Minister-President Kris Peeters of the Flemish Executive himself acknowledged that a possible decision to construct the famous Saeftinghedok could still be for years on the shelve. At the moment an actual law is effectively guaranteeing the status of residential neighbourhood till at least August 2009. The wanton destruction of Doel is a pure political decision of the Flemish Executive without any legal substance.

The residents association "Doel 2020" demands the immediate end of the siege and demolition works and a return to normality and legality.

Pictures of the police siege of Doel and the destruction of good houses in the village can be found here. These pictures can be reproduced freely if you mention © Paul Maes/Doel2020