Southern Yemeni activist Hassan Baoum is seriously ill and has been transferred to a police hospital, his family reports. Baoum is on a hunger strike in protest of his “illegal arrest” on April 1, 2008. He has had a diabetic reaction, and his blood pressure is very high. Baoum has been held incommunicato since his arrest on April 1, 2008, restrained by leg irons and handcuffs.

Yemen rounded up opposition political leaders on April 1 in response to several days of riots in southern Yemen that caused extensive damage to government buildings. The Yemeni military deployed dozens of tanks, armored vehicles and fighter jets into the southern Yemeni governorates. 

The riots followed a year long series of protests in southern Yemen that have grown in size and intensity. Twenty-one protesters have been killed by Yemeni security forces since August 2007.

The demonstrations are prompted by institutionalized discrimination following Yemen’s 1994 civil war and led by former military officers who claim they were forcibly retired. 

Dozens of arrests were made in Aden, Dhalei, Radfan, Abyan, and Mukalah at dawn April 1.  Witnesses said the men were pulled from their bedrooms and beaten. Most are now incommunicado at various military camps.

Several leaders of the Retired Army Association including Abdu Al-Maatri and Hassan Baoum were arrested and may be charged with treason. Baoum who was previously arrested in September 2007, held incommunicado and released in December. Ali Munasar, the head of the Yemeni Socialist Party in Aden was also arrested. 

The activists’ arrests prompted another wave of protests throughout the southern governorates where large demonstrations have become commonplace. Yemen’s opposition party coalition termed the governmental crack down on protests and journalists as an “undeclared state of emergency.”

For more on Yemen, see Jane Novak.

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