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1992: Violence mars German anti-racist rally

VIDEO : Crowds in anti-racist march fight the police

A protest march against right-wing attacks on refugees in Germany has ended in violence after demonstrators clashed with police.

It happened after about 15,000 people gathered in the town of Rostock in eastern Germany for the rally organized by a coalition of left-wing groups.

The rally in Rostock was one of a number taking place in Germany on Saturday to protest about neo-Nazi violence.

Heavy security and bad weather initially seemed to discourage major clashes between the protestors and neo-Nazis.

But as evening approached trouble developed and some marchers attacked police with smoke bombs, stones and bottles.

Police, who said hundreds of left-wing "troublemakers" were among the demonstrators, retaliated with water-cannon and baton charges.

About 75 people were arrested.

The protest came a week after gangs of neo-Nazis stormed and set fire to a hostel for asylum-seekers on a Rostock housing estate.

Local people cheered and applauded as the rioters forced the evacuation of the mainly Vietnamese refugees.

About 200 Romanian gypsies who had been camped outside the hostel were also forced to leave.

Police officers were accused of doing nothing to stop the violence.

Copy-cat attacks later took place against refugees in a number of other German towns and cities.

In Context
After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 there was an upsurge in neo-Nazi activity.

The problem was particularly severe in eastern Germany which suffered from high unemployment and huge social changes after the collapse of communism.

In the early 1990s there were several cases of black African refugees being killed by neo-Nazi thugs in the streets of eastern German towns.

Almost a year before the problems in Rostock, asylum seekers were driven from their homes in the eastern town of Hoyeswerda by right-wing attacks.

The German government has made efforts to crack down on racist activity but in 2001 a 40% year-on-year increase in racist attacks was reported.

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