July 22, 2008
SANAA (AFP) — Five people, including a young boy, were wounded in southern Yemen on Tuesday when police fired on demonstrators demanding the release of more than 80 people arrested during previous protests, witnesses said.
Dozens of demonstrators were also detained during the new protest, in Radfan in southern Lahij province, the witnesses told AFP.
Police fired live bullets and tear gas to disperse the march, they said.
Besides demanding the release of scores of people held since demonstrations in southern provinces earlier this year, the protestors also called for an end to the trials of three senior members of the opposition Yemen Socialist Party (YSP) and 36 other people who were charged in connection with the turmoil.
Hassan Baoum, a member of the YSP's political bureau, YSP central committee member Yehya Ghaleb al-Shuaibi and activist Ali Haitham al-Ghareeb were charged with inciting protests which led to clashes with police in March and April.
Defence lawyers call their trial, which began in May, politically-motivated.
Authorities have blamed the wave of protests on the YSP, the former ruling party in southern Yemen.
An initial protest began when southerners took to the streets to protest at the army's refusal to enrol a number from among them who responded to a recruitment campaign.
Southerners often complain of discrimination since a 1994 secessionist bid was crushed by northern forces of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Several protests have been held in south Yemen to demand greater state aid for more than 60,000 people retired from the military and civil service, most of whom insist they were forced out of their jobs.
Other demonstrations have been staged to denounce rising prices in Yemen, one of the world's poorest countries, and demand better public services.