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JAYAPURA, West Papua (July 30, 2000 – Radio Australia)---At least 15,000 separatists have staged a peaceful protest in the West Papua town of Manokwari to mark the controversial 1969 referendum that turned western New Guinea island from a Dutch colony into an Indonesian province.

The state Antara news agency said the Papuans covered a monument commemorating the referendum with black cloth, saying it was a monument to an historical lie.

The ceremony at the People's Referendum Monument was led by the chairman of the Manokwari Tribal Institute, Barnabas Mandacan.

The separatist Morning Star flag was raised, along with the Indonesian red-and-white banner.

Mr. Mandacan told the gathering that the Indonesian government should understand that the people of West Papua wanted their rights back.

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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