Germany: Neo-Nazis in Lausitz region chase refugee youth through town, besiege their accommodation until 3 AM
Neo-Nazis in Germany have launched a new offensive against refugees. The situation is escalating in the eastern town of Bautzen, where in February still-unidentified perpetrators set fire to a facility in the town center that was supposed to house refugees.
That incident was joyfully observed by some tipsy local residents, a couple of whom tried prevent firefighters from putting out the blaze. When German President Joachim Gauck visited the town shortly afterward, some locals vulgarly scolded him for his attitude towards refugees.
In 2014, 10 % of voters in Saxony cast votes for the neo-Nazi NPD party in elections to the state parliament and about 15 % voted for the populist party Alternative for Germany (AfD). The anti-Fascist news server addn.me reports that since then, neo-Nazi attacks against foreign nationals and leftist youth have multiplied.
All summer, the Kornmarkt Square was a meeting place for the minor refugees who entered Germany unaccompanied by any adult family members. It is one of the few places in town where they have free internet access over their mobile phones, which is crucial to their maintaining contact with their families abroad.
Seated near the fountain on the square, the minors would talk among themselves and with locals. Some local neo-Nazis saw this as an appropriate opportunity for making themselves visible once more.
Local neo-Nazis posted online that "Bautzen has never been, is not, and will not be a colored town." Last Friday, 9 September 2016, the neo-Nazis announced a planned demonstration there under the slogan "Re-migration, not immigration!"
Approximately 200 of them assembled from various towns around the states of Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt. A counter-demonstration by roughly 30 local anti-Fascists was joined by a group of young refugees.
Police did not arrive at the scene of the demonstrations until 30 minutes after they had begun. It was not until the counter-demonstrators began to prevent the neo-Nazis' assaults that police led them away so the neo-Nazis could march through the town undisturbed.
No arrests - again
The situation escalated on Wednesday evening when approximately 80 neo-Nazis attacked a group of 20 young refugees. Police reported that the refugees first threw objects at the neo-Nazis, who then chased them through town.
All of that apparently happened before the first police patrol arrived on the scene. On Thursday, Uwe Kilz, commander of the local police, accused the young refugees of having initiated the conflicts.
According to Kilz, the foreign nationals, all minors, threw bottles, rocks and wooden battens and fought with adults whose numbers exceeded theirs fourfold. Police, according to him, first pushed the youth back into their residential hotel using tear gas and truncheons, locked them in, and then spent until 3 AM getting the neo-Nazis under control.
The neo-Nazis persistently attempted to reach the accommodation facility in smaller groups with the aim of assaulting the refugees again. On the "Bridge of Peace", which is located along the way from the town square to the residential hotel, some neo-Nazis threw rocks to blockade an ambulance and stop it from reaching the facility to treat an injured 18-year-old migrant from Morocco.
A second ambulance had to be called to take the injured youth to the hospital. The Neo-Nazis also threw rocks at the cars of random drivers who just happened to be driving by.
The young Moroccan was released from the hospital the next day and described the cause of the conflict to the German weekly Die Zeit as follows: "They are constantly cursing at us and we are just defending ourselves." People who then spoke with the refugees confirmed to the MDR public broadcasting television station that the neo-Nazis first attacked the refugees.
Police have not yet arrested anybody. Allegedly they are assessing the video material and considering whom to charge with committing bodily harm and violating the freedom of others in the province.
The minors are allegedly to blame
Four minor refugees whom police suspect of having incited the conflict were moved to residential hotels in other towns on 15 September, and the 20 young people still living at the facility in Bautzen are now forbidden to leave it after 19:00. As of 15 September, consumption of alcohol was banned for everybody, both at the residential hotel and outside on the Kornmarkt.
According to local anti-Fascists, the neo-Nazi event was announced in advance online, carefully organized, and criminally ignored by the police. Caren Ley, an MP for the Left Party in the national legislature, tweeted the following on 15 September: "The perpetrators feel safe. When will the town finally wake up? Stop making light of right-wing violence."
Jürgen Kasek, chair of the Green Party in Saxony, also tweeted: "Haven't heard much from Saxony lately? Don't be surprised: Homophobia has become the norm here. State failure is to blame."
Valentin Lippmann, the domestic political spokesperson for the Green faction in the Saxon state parliament, called the Bautzen incident "alarming". "We must begin to effectively combat the right-wing structures that are obviously becoming fixtures," he said.
Lippmann also called for police to guard the refugee accommodations 24/7. The mayor of Bautzen, Alexander Ahrens, who is unaffiliated with any party, condemned public violence per se on Thursday, as well as attempts by people to take justice into their own hands.
"In our state, the police have a monopoly on the use of force and it's going to stay that way," Ahrens said. Silvio Lang, spokesperson for the anti-Fascist policy of the Left Party in Saxony, explained to the left-wing daily Neues Deutschland that "Right-wing demonstrations against refugee accommodations have been happening here for three years already. Since last Friday [9 September], however, the Fascists have been demonstrating every evening."
Lang said he believes the situation is intensifying. He has also alleged that "the police are incapable of getting this under control".
Heiko Kosel is a Sorb from Lausitz who lives in Bautzen and is a representative in the Saxon state legislature. He has commented that "Bautzen must not become a pilgrimage site for the right-wing scene, whether from Saxony or those from the rest of the country with whom the local scene is closely connected."
Kosel is under the impression that the aim of the ongoing violence is to create a "nationally liberated Kornmarkt" in Bautzen. Jasper von Altenbockum, an editor at the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, has criticized the bickering over who began the conflicts by saying "we're not in a child's bedroom here".
In his commentary published on 15 September for news server faz.net, von Altenbockum wrotes: "How can we prevent the migrants from becoming a tool of the extremists? In Bautzen, nighttime quiet is being regularly disturbed. Police have counted more than 70 interventions on the Kornmarkt in recent months for incidents that degenerated into fights. Why was the entire thing even allowed to deteriorate to this extent before the district, the municipality, the police and the politicians got together to take control of the situation?"
On 15 September, 300 people opposed to migration assembled on the Kornmarkt in Bautzen again and were counter-protested by roughly 30 anti-Fascists, with the confrontation mostlt resulting just in verbal attacks, threats of violence and sedition. One cameraman was slightly physically injured during the altercation.
Local police again claimed to have dealt with the situation. More demonstrations were announced for the evenings of 16 and 17 September.
Saxon Police have requested backup from other states. There will apparently no longer be any place for refugee youth on the Kornmarkt this weekend.
A brief video from Wednesday's demonstration by the neo-Nazis and their violent chasing of refugees around the town: www.youtube.com/watch?v=JB-TCrVU7I4
The press conference with the Mayor of Bautzen and local police representatives: www.youtube.com/watch?v=rTogZUa249Y
A propaganda video made by the neo-Nazis of their demonstration on 9 September 2016 in the streets of Bautzen: www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7fTasMMeUQ
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