Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte threatened on Monday to kill human rights activists who criticize his murderous and illegal war on drug dealers and users.
“The human rights [activists] said I ordered the killings,” he said in a speech in Malacañang. “I told them ‘OK. Let’s stop. We’ll let them [drug users] multiply so that when it’s harvest time, more people will die.”
No one wants drug trafficking, abuse or the crime and misery that accompany these issues to continue in the Philippines. But Duterte’s willingness to circumvent law to tackle such problems creates a slippery slope. Once a leader decides to bypass law for one issue, what is to stop him from doing the same for another issue? If he would kill human rights activists who criticize his extrajudicial murder of drug dealers and users, what comes next? Killing those who obstruct the murder of human rights activists?
And after them, who might the next target group be?
Alcoholics? Bad drivers? Maybe Sabbath keepers?
These questions call to mind a poem by Martin Niemöller, a German anti-Nazi Lutheran leader. Niemöller’s criticism of Adolf Hitler eventually landed him in concentration camps, where he spent the last seven years of Nazi rule. His poem is critical of the German intellectuals who refused to stand up against Hitler’s purging of group after group from German society—including drug addicts, beggars, Jehovah’s Witnesses, pacifists, mentally ill, Gypsies and, of course, Jews:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Full article: Philippines’ Duterte Says He’ll Kill Human Rights Activists. Who’s Next? (The Trumpet)