By Joseph DeCaro
(Worthy News) - Authorities in Indonesia opened fire on a peaceful meeting in Timika, West Papua, as thousands of protesters gathered to pray for an independence referendum on April 5.
According to Barnabas Aid, authorities had arrested 15 protesters, many of whom were also beaten. Other protests in West Papua resulted in additional arrests. The region is currently part of what is known as Melanesia: a sub-region of Oceania, which includes the countries of Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, Fiji and Papua New Guinea along with a number of other islands and atolls.
Barnabas Aid has supported a variety of projects in West Papua over the past few years. Most recently a grant was given to a local organization that recruits, trains and supports Christian teachers. This grant will hopefully help counter the increasing Islamization of West Papua's schools and ensure that Christianity retains its influence in the region.