By Bill Weinberg

Indonesian President Joko Widodo, following in the bloody footsteps of the Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte, has issued a “shoot-on-sight” policy for drug suspects. The hardline policy comes amid a sudden media blitz about the drug “state of emergency” in the archipelago nation. Amnesty International says it believes at least 60 drug suspects (including at least eight foreigners) have been killed by Indonesian police so far this year—compared with just 18 in all of 2016.

In late July, Widodo said during a speech in Jakarta: “Be firm, especially to foreign drug dealers who enter the country and resist arrest. Enough, just shoot them. Be merciless.”

Given the massive bloodletting such rhetoric has led to in the Philippines, this sparked outcry from human rights groups.

“This shocking escalation in unlawful killings by the police sounds serious alarm bells,” said Usman Hamid, director of Amnesty International Indonesia. “While Indonesian authorities have a duty to respond to increasing rates of drug use in the country, shooting people on sight is never a solution.”

“It is deeply worrying that foreigners appear to be targeted by the authorities. This could point to a deliberate policy to scapegoat non-Indonesians,” Hamid added. 

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