By Mary Merkenich
BOCHUM, Germany - Since reunification, there has been an alarming increase in violence from the right, especially in the areas of the old East Germany.
Skinheads here represent the extreme right wing, and they have made foreigners and Jews the particular objects of their thirst for violence. Recent targets have included street vendors (almost exclusively migrants), youths at discos or clubs and a lone bicycle rider at night.
Their political opposites are the punks, with whom they often have street battles. After several arrests recently, it has been discovered that many of the skins are from states in the old West Germany, disproving the theory that the violence is a product of the old communist states.
A 28-year-old Mozambican was recently murdered in the east German city of Dresden. Witnesses reported that Jorge Joao Gomondai was attacked by seven to 10 skins and pushed out of a moving tram. He sustained severe head injuries and, despite several operations, never regained consciousness.
About 3000 people attended Jorge Gomondai's funeral on April 11. The mourners included older citizens, punks, students, families with their children, Africans and Vietnamese.
Their common hope, along with their show of solidarity with the foreigners in their city, is to put a stop to the violence.
As the participants left the church to march through the city to the spot where Gomondai was murdered, about 100 right-wing radicals greeted them with abusive language and shouted "foreigners out".
The skins then ran towards the Africans in the group, but immediately the demonstrators moved in front, blocking them. The police intervened only after scuffles broke out, cleared the area and arrested a few skins.
The demonstrators then continued their planned march and placed flowers in front of a picture of Gomondai. The picture was soon covered with flowers, and a vigil of Germans and Africans followed. Ten skins were finally arrested and were found to be carrying baseball bats, gas pistols and irritant gas.