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Tuesday, May 23, 2000
Guam sees start of torch protests

  SYDNEY, Australia (AP) -- Olympics Minister Michael Knight hopes there will be no Aboriginal protests at the Sydney Games, but they've already begun 15,000 kilometres miles) away from Sydney.

  While Knight said in Berlin that he hoped for a controversy-free Olympics, a small group of indigenous Chomorro people greeted the Olympic torch in the island nation of Guam with a peaceful demonstration.

  The torch relay can expect to meet similar peaceful indigenous protests at every stop through the Pacific, Sydney protest organizer Lyle Munro said today.

  He said 13 Pacific nations had agreed to support the Aboriginal protests during the relay when the matter was put on the Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific forum in Tahiti last year.

  Sydney's Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council proposed the protest through the South Pacific Indigenous Forum and supplied the Aboriginal flags, Munro said.

  "It's their form of peaceful protest for the rights of indigenous Australians and to show solidarity for our struggle," said Munro, the land council's Sydney protest coordinator.

  Carrying Aboriginal flags and protest placards, Chomorro people staged a vigil as the torch arrived from Athens at the first stop of a 13-country, 18-day jaunt through Oceania.

  The protesters said they had turned out in support of Aboriginal land rights and for the rights of indigenous people throughout the Pacific and Australia.

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