Activists express sorrow over death of poet Wiji Thukul's wife and rights activist Sipon

Source – January 6, 2023
People arrive to pay their respects to human rights defender Sipon – January 5, 2023 (Kompas)

Singgih Wiryono, Jakarta – The National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) and human rights civil society organisations have expressed their condolences over the death of Siti Dyah Sujirah (Sipon), the wife of People's Democratic Party (PRD) activist and poet Wiji Thukul.

"The Komnas HAM extended family conveys its deepest sorrow over the death of Siti Dyah Sujirah (Sipon), the wife of human rights activist Wiji Thukul, on Thursday, January 5, 2023. Farewell Mbak [Sister] Sipon, rest in peace, our prayers go with you", read a statement on the official Komnas HAM Instagram account @komnas.ham on Friday January 6.

Expressions of sorrow also came from the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras). On its official Instagram account the organisation referred to Sipon as a victim of a human rights violation, referring to the forced disappearance of her husband Thukul in 1996.

"We are deeply saddened by her departure. Hopefully her family who is left behind will be given fortitude and strength. Farewell Siti Dyah Sujirah (Mbak Sipon)", wrote Kontras.

Expressions of grief were also conveyed by the Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR) who said that Indonesia had lost a courageous human rights defender. Sipon and Thukul were referred to as human rights defenders who had the courage to challenge injustice.

"Both were human rights defenders who we must remember for their courage in challenging injustice and fighting for human rights in Indonesia. Farewell woman of strength, we grieve for you", wrote the ICJR on its Instagram account.

Similar expressions of grief were also expressed by legal aid groups such as the Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights Association (PBHI), the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI), the Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation (LBH) and LBH offices around the country.

As has been reported, Sipon (55) died on Thursday January 5 at 1.01 pm. She leaves behind two children, Fitri Nganthi Wani and Fajar Merah, along with a grandchild, Sava Azalia Ratu Anjani.

A respected village elder where Sipon lived, Tri Wiyono, revealed that on the day before her death on Wednesday January 4, Sipon ate soto (a spicy soup) at a local food stall.

She only ate a few spoonfuls then complained that her stomach was not strong enough. It is suspected she was suffering from heartburn.

"So after just a few, several spoonfuls, she said she wasn't up to it. Then she went home to sleep. From the afternoon through the evening she complained [of feeling unwell]", Wiyono told journalists at the funeral home.

That night, at around 7 pm, Sipon's son Fajar Merah took her to the Solo Hermina Hospital with help from local people.

According to Wiyono, Sipon had long had a history of diabetes and as a result of the illness even had to have her foot amputated. But the heartburn that she suffered was something new. Two days before her death Sipon complained of a stomach ache.

"The heartburn was very recent, right. Just two days. She was only in the hospital for one night", said Wiyono.


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 "Komnas HAM dan Organisasi Sipil HAM Ucapkan Dukacita atas Meninggalnya Sipon, Istri Wiji Thukul".]