Far-right blood drive riles medics

The latest in a series of initiatives by the neofascist Chrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn) to gather donations for blood banks went ahead on Friday in a central Athens square amid protests by doctors? unions, but the head of the Geniko Kratiko Hospital insisted that the blood would go to any citizens in need, not only to Greeks, as demanded by the ultra-right group.

The blood donation initiative went ahead in Aghios Panteleimonas Square, a run-down area near central Athens, but hospital authorities insisted that the terms Golden Dawn had attempted to impose would not be observed. The director of Geniko Kratiko Hospital, Giorgos Papadopoulos, told Kathimerini that it had received an official request from Golden Dawn to conduct the blood donations but emphasized that no restrictions would apply regarding who that blood would go to.

Members of Golden Dawn attending the blood drive in Aghios Panteleimonas reportedly took the opportunity to hand out free food to citizens who had given blood.

While the blood initiative was under way, a group of around 10 people burst into a local convenience store managed by a Pakistani national, grabbed canned soft drinks and other goods from the shelves and distributed them to passers-by, witnesses said.

Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis condemned Golden Dawn for their tactics but appeared unsurprised. ?They do not want to solve their problems with legal means,? he said. ?Golden Dawn feeds off lawlessness.?

Doctors? unions condemned Golden Dawn for ?including blood donations in their bigoted propaganda.?

The National Center for Blood Donation said ?the management of blood is the duty of blood collection services and not voluntary blood donors,? adding that the only criteria for the use of blood was ?to serve those who are in real need, irrespective of race, religion or other differences, artificial or otherwise.?

In a related development on Friday the Supreme Court appealed to lift the parliamentary immunity of two Golden Dawn MPs — Giorgos Germenis and Panagiotis Iliopoulos — who have been linked to a raid on immigrants in Rafina, northeast of Athens. Another Golden Dawn MP, Constantinos Barbarousis, is also to face a parliamentary probe over a similar raid in Mesolongi, western Greece.

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