Manila: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte raised the rhetoric over his bloody anti-crime war to a new level today, comparing it to Hitler and the Holocaust and saying he would be “happy to slaughter” 3 million addicts.
Duterte issued his latest threat against drug dealers and users early today on returning to his hometown in southern Davao city after visiting Vietnam, where he discussed his anti-drug campaign with Vietnamese leaders and ways for their governments to fight transnational crimes, including illegal drugs.
Duterte has said his public death threats against drug suspects are designed to scare them into stop selling drugs and to discourage would-be users. But his latest remarks took that crime-busting approach to a different level.
“Hitler massacred 3 million Jews … There’s 3 million drug addicts. There are. I’d be happy to slaughter them,” Duterte said, referring to a Philippine government estimate of the number of drug addicts in the country. Historians say 6 million Jews were killed by the Nazis under Hitler before and during World War II.
During the presidential election campaign earlier this year and during the three months he had held office, the tough-talking Duterte has threatened to drown drug suspects to fatten the fish in Manila Bay.
He also threatened to execute drug traffickers by hanging – because he didn’t want to waste electricity on them – until their heads were severed from their bodies.
While Hitler’s victims were innocent people, Duterte said his targets are “all criminals” and that getting rid of them would “finish the (drug) problem of my country and save the next generation from perdition.”
The comparisons with Hitler were criticized by Phil Robertson, the Asia deputy director for Human Rights Watch, who said it was baffling why anyone would want to compare themselves to “one of the largest mass murderers in human history.”
Robertson said that in today’s context, Hitler would be accused of crimes against humanity, charges that often end up at the International Court of Justice in the Hague.
“Is that what Duterte wants? Does he want to be sent to the international criminal court? Because he’s working his way there,” Robertson said.