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Foreign drug war hits home for Indonesians in Utah

By Junshi Zhao

Indonesians in northern Utah are feeling the effects of drug-related violence in their homeland.

Suri Young, a restaurant manager in Logan, has been working toward her American citizenship for years — as a green card holder, her ability to visit family in Indonesia has been limited. But even once Young earns citizenship next year, she is unlikely to make the trip, especially now that Indonesia's anti-narcotics chief has declared the start of a drug war.

To support the war, which was annoucned by Indonesia's national anti-narcotics agency chief, Budi Waseso, earlier this month, the agency is adding weapons, investigators and technology.

Waseso told Reuters that he viewed the lives of drug dealers as “meaningless.” He would like his country to be as aggressive as the Philippines in fighting drug trafficing.

The president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, has made the extra-judicial killings of criminals a cornerstone of his domestic policy.

That makes Yong nervous. She doesn’t want to see the situation in Indonesia get as bad as it is in the Philippines.

“People are killed only because they look like a drug dealer,” Yong said. “That is insane.”

Her husband, Kenny Yong, understands the Indonesian government’s objectives, but questions its methods.

“Although the government is just doing what they are supposed to do,” he said, “they need to guarantee people’s safety first.”

It has been five years since Suri Yong has been home to see her family in Indonesia. Instead of making the trip after her naturalization exam next year, she’ll probably invite her parents to Utah.

“I would like to ask my parents to come to the United States," she said. "Although I love my country, it's never been a safe place to live. You could be robbed even on the street during the daytime. I feel lucky to live in America.”