Papua New Guinea: Peaceful demonstrators risk imprisonment
Four men are facing criminal charges for their role in organizing peaceful demonstrations in March 1997 to protest the use of mercenaries against armed rebels fighting on the island of Bougainville. If tried and convicted they would become the first prisoners of conscience in PNG since the country's independence. The four are Powes Parkop, a lawyer, Jonathan O'ata, the General Secretary of PNG Watch Council, John Kawowo, a worker at the Individual and Community Rights Advocacy Forum (ICRAF), and John Napu, a student activist and volunteer with the PNG Watch Council. Amnesty International is calling on the authorities to drop the charges of unlawful assembly against the men and to halt any further arrests of individuals engaging in peaceful protest activities.