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Indonesia’s harsh stance on drug war raises tensions

Posted on 06-04-15 in Drug Addiction

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According to Indonesia’s National Narcotics Bureau, the country is said to be in a “state of drug emergency” with around a total number of 4.2 million citizens (two percent of the total population) addicted to crystal meth and heroin. This epidemic has lead to multiple executions of drug offenders and the government taking a stern stance on the issue. Indonesia has shown to demonstrate some of the harshest anti-drug laws in the world and their president Joko Widodo sternly supports the death penalty for drug traffickers.

A severe punishment in action

Recently, authorities arrested infamous Hong Kong drug lord Wong Chi-Ping and his colleagues along with an enormous 800 kilograms of methamphetamine, also known by the name “shabu shabu” as it is referred to in Indonesia. Not even two weeks later, Widodo had five foreign drug dealers executed. Seven more were executed last month as well. President Widodo’s hard stance on the drug epidemic has gained international attention and has been subject to much ridicule and debate.

In defense of these punishments, Widodo posted a message on his Facebook page: “The war against the drug mafia should not be half-hearted measures, because drugs have really ruined the good life of the drug users and their families…there is no happiness in life to be gained from drug abuse. The country must be present and fight with drug syndicates head-on. A healthy Indonesia is Indonesia without drugs.”

As drug dealers are being prosecuted with little mercy, many Indonesians with drug-related health problems are suffering and in need of treatment. “Of the 4.2 million drug addicts in Indonesia, 1.2 million need immediate medical care,” said National Narcotics Bureau (BNN) spokesman Slamet Pribadi after visiting a treatment center in the city of Bogor. Pribadi also said that the number of drug addicts in Indonesia had increased over the past three years and most were crystal meth users.

President Widodo has endorsed the idea that drug users are victims in this epidemic and should be treated differently than those who are trafficking drugs into the country.

Large drug syndicates in Indonesia have established relationships with other drug rings within their Southeast Asia pipeline such as China, Malaysia and the Philippines as well as other outside countries such as Iran and the Netherlands. The country’s many islands and ports have served as hubs for importing illegal drugs. Methamphetamine lab busts have increased dramatically over the past five years with seizures in the region having quadrupled. This could be seen as an improvement in vigilance by the authorities, but it also marks an incredibly dramatic rise in the meth trade in this region of the world.

International effects

In one incident, two Australian citizens, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were executed. These executions were deemed “both cruel and unnecessary,” by Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Both men had served a decade in prison prior to their execution and were “fully rehabilitated.” Australia withdrew their ambassador from Jakarta in response to these executions. Other foreign prisoners from Brazil, the Netherlands and Nigeria have been executed, which has sparked some debate of Indonesia’s future relationship with these countries being left to question.
The war on drug spans across the globe with reactions varying in severity in different countries. Likewise, the drug addiction epidemic is deadlier than ever in our society and continues to be viewed as one that ruins the lives of people every day making prevention and treatment as important as ever.

Sovereign Health Group is one of the many groups currently involved in helping those who are struggling with drug addiction. We are among the leading drug addiction treatment centers in the country and offer a variety of inpatient and outpatient treatment programs for patients who struggle with drug addiction, mental health disorders and a combination of the two known as a dual diagnosis. If you know someone who is struggling with drug addiction and is in need of treatment, please contact us a member of our team online or via phone call to learn more about our treatment programs. One of our treatment specialists will assist you in finding the right treatment option for you.

Written by Benjamin Creekmore, Sovereign Health Group writer