2 Jul 2004

Hundreds of pro-independence marchers rally in Papua province

11:14 am on 2 July 2004

About a thousand people rallied in the Indonesian province of Papua yesterday to mark peacefully the 40th anniversary of the pro-independence Free West Papua Movement (or OPM).

The demonstrators gathered outside the local parliament in the provincial capital of Jayapura holding banners and singing traditional songs.

They called for a public referendum on sovereignty for the province as about a hundred uniformed police stood by.

Police had earlier stopped and questioned the protesters on their way to parliament but had allowed them to continue after checking their identity cards.

OPM guerillas have been fighting Indonesian forces sporadically in the province since the Indonesian government annexed the former Dutch colony in 1963.