Far-right ‘hunt’ for refugees in German town, police accused of cover-up & inaction

© Christian Mang
Dozens of suspected far-right extremists have rampaged through the eastern German town of Bautzen, “hunting” refugees, according to local media. Police denied the incident, but have been accused of a cover-up and inaction.

A mob of up to 50 stone-throwing locals reportedly chased migrants from Bautzen town center on Tuesday night, the second such incident in two weeks, according to Die Zeit

The far-right activists took to cars and bikes to ‘hunt’ migrants down. Most of them were wearing dark clothing with German Imperial flags and right-wing-badges, while some of their cars had slogans such as “White Power” written on them, according to a Sueddeutsche Zeitung report

A small police team was present at the time of the incident but apparently did not interfere until the refugees began to run from the mob, who had gathered at the town’s market square, the newspaper reported.

One migrant was subsequently hit by a bicycle ridden by one of the suspected far-right group, and later suffered a cut from a stone which hit him. Officers also rescued a second migrant and escorted him away in their vehicle.

A police spokesperson, however, told Die Zeit that “nothing special” had happened in Bautzen on that day, later saying in a statement that no “hunt” for refugees had taken place.

However, on Wednesday morning, police said in a statement that a 20-year-old asylum seeker, accompanied by two other migrants, had allegedly attacked a German teen.

After police had detained the 20-year-old, the two other refugees were followed by a far-right group who appeared to be throwing stones at them. When the group saw the police, they fled, according to the statement.

Four suspects were arrested afterwards, with police telling Tagesspiegel that they “could not rule out” that at least someone from the group belonged to far-right extremist factions.

Sebastian Striegel, a Green Party MP in the Saxony-Anhalt parliament, accused police of covering up the situation. "If we didn't have research journalism, we would have to believe what the police told us about Bautzen. At most that would be half of the truth," he tweeted.

Police in the state of Saxony have previously been the subject of controversy, according to German media. In February, officers were caught on viral video dragging a refugee from a bus in the Saxony town of Clausnitz while a mob of anti-migrant demonstrators blocked the vehicle. 

In March, Martin Dulig, deputy prime minister of Saxony, told Die Zeit: “I ask myself whether sympathies for Pegida and the AfD [Alternative for Germany] are more widespread in the police than among regular citizens.” 

Bautzen itself has seen several clashes between the right wing and refugees, including an arson attack in February that badly damaged a planned refugee center in the town. In mid-September, around 20 refugees engaged in fighting with some 80 locals, with police claiming that the altercation, which involved bottles and wooden boards being hurling, “was started by the asylum seekers.”