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Philippines leader Duterte 'happy to slaughter 3m drug addicts'


Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte discussed his anti-drugs campaign with Vietnamese leaders (AP)

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte discussed his anti-drugs campaign with Vietnamese leaders (AP)

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte discussed his anti-drugs campaign with Vietnamese leaders (AP)

Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte has compared his bloody crime crackdown to Hitler and the Holocaust, saying he would be "happy to slaughter" three million drug addicts.

Mr Duterte issued his latest threat against drug dealers and users as he returned to his home town 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.

Mr Duterte has said his public death threats against drug suspects are designed to scare them into stopping selling drugs and to discourage would-be users.

But his latest remarks took his tough crime-busting approach to a different level as he said he had been "portrayed or pictured to be a cousin of Hitler", without elaborating.

Moments later, he said: "Hitler massacred three million Jews ... there's three million drug addicts. There are. I'd be happy to slaughter them."

He was referring to a Philippine government estimate of the number of drug addicts in the country. Historians say six million Jews were killed by the Nazis under Hitler before and during the Second World War.

During the presidential election campaign earlier this year and during the three months he has held office, the tough-talking Mr Duterte has threatened to drown drug suspects to fatten the fish in Manila Bay.

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He also threatened to execute drug traffickers by hanging - because he did not want to waste electricity on them - until their heads were severed from their bodies.

Mr 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".

Germany's government said Mr Duterte's comments were unacceptable.

"It is impossible to make any comparison to the unique atrocities of the Shoah and Holocaust," foreign ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer said in Berlin.

World Jewish Congress president Ronald Lauder branded Mr Duterte's remarks "revolting" and demanded that he retract them and apologise.

Mr Lauder said from Jerusalem, where we was attending the funeral of former Israeli leader Shimon Peres: "Drug abuse is a serious issue. But what president Duterte said is not only profoundly inhumane, but it demonstrates an appalling disrespect for human life that is truly heartbreaking for the democratically elected leader of a great country."

Philippines representative Teodoro Baguilat wondered if the president was suggesting that "it's open season now for all addicts; no more rehabilitation, just kill them systematically like what the Nazis did with the Jews".

He also expressed fears that Jewish businesspeople might boycott the Philippines.

Also critical was Phil Robertson, 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".

Mr Robertson said that in today's context, Hitler would be accused of crimes against humanity.

"Is that what Duterte wants? Does he want to be sent to the international criminal court? Because he's working his way there," Mr Robertson said.

Amnesty International said Mr Duterte "has sunk to new depths" and urged governments around the world to condemn his "extremely dangerous outburst".

A spokesman for Yad Vashem, the Jerusalem-based world centre for Holocaust research and commemoration, declined to comment on Mr Duterte's remarks.

Mr Duterte's campaign promise to end corruption and crime, especially illegal drugs, within six months of taking office on June 30 carried him to an overwhelming victory in May's presidential election.

Since the vote, more than 3,000 suspected drug dealers and users have been killed and nearly 700,000 others have surrendered in his crackdown. Mr Duterte has asked for a six-month extension to finish the job.

His supporters and many Filipinos exasperated with widespread crime have welcomed his tough approach, but a growing number of critics, including UN officials, the European Union and the United States, have voiced concerns over the widespread killings and human rights violations.

Mr Duterte reacted by calling critics from the European Union a "group of idiots in the purest form".

He also lashed out at the US, his country's long-standing treaty ally, and the EU for finding fault with his methods, saying European countries were hypocrites for not doing enough to help the large numbers of refugees fleeing violence in the Middle East.

He said: "There are migrants escaping from the Middle East. You allow them to rot and then you're worried about the deaths of about 1,000, 2,000, 3,000 (people in the Philippines)."


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