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The BBC's Rob Broomby in Berlin
"The government approach has hardened"
 real 28k

Friday, 18 August, 2000, 22:45 GMT 23:45 UK
German neo-Nazis suspend demos
Supporters of far-right NPD
Germany is considering banning the NPD
Germany's extreme right-wing National Democratic Party (NPD) says it is suspending all demonstrations for the next two to three months, amid mounting pressure from the authorities.

In a statement, the NPD said it had decided to cancel all future demonstrations in order to protect the party.

The party, which has some 6,000 members, said it would give no further chance for "state agents and provocateurs" to infiltrate demonstrations.

Hess grave/police
The grave of Rudolf Hess: Neo-Nazis view him as a martyr
The move came hours after the German Chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder, urged all Germans to help fight neo-Nazi violence. His government is seen as increasingly determined to outlaw the NPD if it can.

A high-level commission of legal and constitutional experts will announce in October whether the conditions exist for a ban on the party.

"You can't let a few skinheads gone wild destroy what you have built here," Mr Schroeder told a gathering at a steelworks in the eastern town of Eisenhuettenstadt.

"We cannot and must not accept...that people are chased through the streets, beaten or even killed because of their language, religion or the colour of their skin," he said.

Suicide

The party spokesman, Klaus Beier, told the BBC there would be no more protests for at least two to three months, after which the party leadership would review the situation.

Neo-Nazis defied the German authorities in several cities in eastern Germany on Thursday by trying to honour Hitler's deputy Rudolf Hess on the 13th anniversary of his suicide. But police quickly arrested the activists.

A spate of extreme right-wing violence has sent shockwaves through Germany this summer.

Last month a bomb in the western city of Duesseldorf injured 10 people, six of them Russian Jewish immigrants.

Dictatorship

In a separate attack, an African immigrant was beaten to death.

And in the latest incident involving right-wing youths, police said they detained three men aged 18-19, for setting fire to an Asian fast-food stand in the eastern town of Schwerin. Two of the suspects are known right-wingers, police said.

Mr Schroeder said people in former East Germany "have not freed themselves from a communist dictatorship in order to give up the streets to those who literally trample on the freedom of others".


We want to increase the pressure on neo-Nazi ideologues and their thuggish followers

Fritz Behrens, interior minister of North Rhine-Westphalia

To help prevent attacks, plans have been announced to deploy the Federal Border Guard, the BGS, to boost security on trains and railway stations.

The interior ministers from Germany's 16 states have also pledged to crack down on right-wingers.

According to the NPD, the extra pressure from the authorities has boosted membership by about 500 in 10 days.

With the public funding of parties in Germany, it is estimated the NPD is getting about $380,000 from the state - money which cannot be stopped while the party remains legal.

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See also:

12 Aug 00 | Europe
Germans march against extremism
05 Aug 00 | Europe
German swoop on neo-Nazis
07 Aug 00 | Europe
Germany agonises over neo-Nazis
01 May 98 | Despatches
German neo-Nazi rally goes ahead
18 Feb 00 | Europe
World alert for rise of far right
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