Sipon, wife of radical poet Wiji Thukul, dies leaving her fight for justice unfinished

CNN Indonesia – January 5, 2023
Siti Dyah Sujirah alias Sipon (left) and Wiji Thukul – Undated (Istimewa)

Jakarta – Siti Dyah Sujirah or Sipon died today on Thursday January 5. She was the wife of People's Democratic Party (PRD) activist and poet Wiji Thukul, who was disappeared in 1996 for his frequent and harsh criticism of Suharto's New Order regime.

Sipon married Thukul in October 1998. The couple were gifted with two children named Fajar Merah and Fitri Nganthi Wani.

In 1996 however, Sipon had to raise the two children on her own after her husband disappeared and never returned. Sipon was aware that her beloved husband's departure was closely related to the July 27, 1996 riots.

The Suharto government at the time accused Thukul of being involved in an incident that triggered the riots, along with Budiman Sudjatmiko, Wilson and other PRD comrades. Although this was never established, like the whereabouts of Thukul to this day.

From that time on, Sipon has always remembered the last time that she saw her husband. On an evening in August 1996, Thukul bid her farewell. Sipon believed that her husband left because he did not feel safe if he remained at their home in Surakarta (Solo), Central Java.

Following Thukul's departure that night, the family home was visited by and raided by police. The incident was even intentionally covered by journalists.

Sipon later explained to the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) that around eight uniformed police and military officers entered her home without permission and confiscated any documents they found in the house.

Sipon was then forced to sign a letter with an Indonesian police logo and a Surakarta District Police (Polres) letterhead on it. The letter stated that she had knowingly surrendered the documents to security forces.

Sipon did not however remain silent, and pursued every avenue available. She reported her husband's disappearance to the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), Komnas HAM and the House of Representatives (DPR).

She also demanded and put her hopes in each president that took office to provide her with justice.

Up until the very end of her life however, she never obtained the justice she sought. Nor did she ever discover the whereabouts of her husband. (yla/ain)


According to a January 5 report by CNN Indonesia, Sipon died of a heart attack. The family's spokesperson, Hastin Dirgantari, said that on Wednesday January 4 Sipon had complained of shortness of breath and that her health had been deteriorating over the last two weeks. See:

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Sipon, Istri Wiji Thukul Perjuangkan Keadilan hingga Akhir Hayat".]