Roni Ruben Iba is a former security guard and campaigner for Papuan independence. On 12 November 2009 he was convicted of treason and sentenced to 3 years imprisonment in the Manokwari region of Papua.
Mr. Iba was originally arrested outside the Bintuni Bay district government office at the time of a ceremony to commemorate Papuan independence. It is reported that during the celebrations, the congregation raised a flag that resembled, but was not the same as, the banned Papuan “Morning Star” flag and that this led to the arrests.
The raising of the Papuan flag is an extremely controversial issue and the Indonesian authorities have been quick to prosecute and imprison anyone suspected of partaking. Under the 2001 Special Autonomy laws, symbols of national identity such as flags or anthems are permitted in Papua, however many Papuans feel that these laws have failed them, especially considering the fact that they are undermined by more recent government regulations which, inter alia, explicitly prohibit the display of the flag in public places.
Several reports have surfaced regarding the mistreatment and abuse that Mr.Iba has suffered during his time in custody. During his trial at the Manokwari regional court he claimed to have been kicked and badly beaten with a rifle butt whilst in the hands of the police and there are serious concerns for his safety while he serves out the rest of his sentence.
“Prosecuting Political Aspiration”, Human Rights Watch, 23 June 2010,
‘Three Papuan flag-raisers convicted’ IFEX, Human Rights Watch, 18 November 2009, http://www.hrw.org/en/node/90960/section/5 http://www.ifex.org/indonesia/2009/11/19/release_papuan_flag-raisers/
“Prosecuting Political Aspiration: Indonesia’s Political Prisoners”, Human Rights Watch, June 2010, http://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/indonesia0610webwcover_0.pdf
Indonesian Penal code, World Intellectual Property Organisation, http://www.wipo.int/clea/docs_new/pdf/en/id/id039en.pdf