9 years Boy hospitalised after ‘severe torture’

Htake Kwat, 9, lies on a hospital bed.
The injuries were, he says, sustained
by a hot iron and burning plastic (DVB)
By NAW NOREEN |  7 July 2011 | DVB

A nine-year-old orphaned boy from southern Burma was admitted to hospital 10 days ago after being found with signs of severe torture. Unable to pay his medical bills, however, the Irrawaddy division hospital ejected him.

Htake Kwat, who was working as a waiter in Henzada town in Irrawaddy division, arrived at the local hospital in late June. Images of the boy obtained by DVB show evidence of extensive burning; local sources say hot irons were applied to his stomach, back and thighs, and burning plastic poured on his forearm. He also recounted how he had been fed animal feces.

The son-in-law of the owner of the You & Me Teashop in Henzada, where the nine-year-old was employed, has been arrested in connection with the abuse. It appears the series of assaults took place after Htake Kwat kicked a dog belonging to the son-in-law, identified only as Mr Snow.

A local man in the town, who asked for anonymity, told DVB that despite his wounds not yet healing, doctors at the hospital dismissed Htake Kwat on 3 July. “The hospital would not treat him for free, and it seemed like they couldn’t afford to keep him there.”

The teashop owners had reportedly been paying the medical fees but stopped after Snow’s arrest.

Henzada court held a hearing into the case yesterday, with the prosecution presenting statements. Aye Aye Soe, who first brought the child to hospital after he had escaped from the teashop, recounted how she had spotted him on 27 June “shivering from his injuries”.

“He said Snow stuck an iron on his thighs – we saw the wound – as well as on his back. We also saw some burn marks on his forearm and he said the man dropped burning plastic on him,” said Aye Aye Soe.

“The child said he begged for some water at one point and [Snow] said, ‘No water, I’ll give you piss’ and urinated into his mouth – the child said he had to swallow anyway as he was very thirsty.

“In the evening, when he was very hungry and asked for food, the man wrapped some dried dog faeces in a plastic bag and stuck it into his mouth and shut it with a piece of cloth. He said Snow’s wife was also involved; she tied him up and beat him.”

The child is yet to receive any legal assistance, locals say. During the trial yesterday, no lawyer was present to represent him, although help is being requested of the National League for Democracy-run Lawyers’ Network.

Snow was first charged by the police for causing injury, but following local anger the charge was changed to torture. Snow’s family are reportedly trying to get the child to drop the case by offering 500,000 kyat ($US660) compensation, although the lack of legal representation for Htake Kwat means he may have to settle for this.

The Heznada police station refused to comment when contacted by DVB.

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