Disabled man beaten by police in viral video refuses to leave home

A disabled man who was beaten by police following a crackdown on anti-coup protesters in Mandalay earlier this week has refused to leave his home since the attack, according to his uncle.

A video of the attack, which shows 21-year-old Han Thet Zaw being beaten repeatedly with batons wielded by men in police uniforms, went viral on social media after it was first shared by his uncle on Monday.

The incident took place that day near the Takhon Taing roundabout at the entrance to Mandalay, where Han Thet Zaw and other volunteers were cleaning up after protesters, as they had done every day for a week.

In the 14-second video, Han Thet Zaw is seen receiving at least a dozen blows from his attackers before a man wearing military camouflage intervenes to stop them.

“We condemn any organization that would beat up a disabled kid like he was an animal,” his uncle said.

The attack occurred after police launched a crackdown on protests at around 4pm that left at least 20 people injured, according to local sources.

After learning from neighbours that his nephew was among the casualties, Han Thet Zaw’s uncle searched for him and eventually found him hiding in a nearby monastery.

“We thought he’d been taken. I didn’t know what to do. When I found him, he was bruised all over. And we saw five marks on his back from being beaten up with the rods. He was hiding because he was scared,” his uncle told Myanmar Now.

“He couldn’t run away, so they ganged up on him. I went to look for him the moment I heard what happened, but I couldn’t do much because [the police] had orders to shoot. Later on, I found him hiding,” he added.


The uncle explained that Han Thet Zaw was developmentally delayed because he was born with congenital meningitis. He didn’t start speaking until he was nine years old, and couldn’t walk until he was 10.

The uncle took his nephew in when his parents split up, and now they live together with Han Thet Zaw’s deaf 76-year-old grandmother. All three are supported by the uncle’s income from his job laying tiles.

Still traumatized, Han Thet Zaw said he wouldn’t return to the scene of the attack.

“I’m scared and I’m hurt. I can’t go back there again. I hope the people who did this to me die horrible deaths,” he said.

“When I was there, they were beating people up. I couldn’t run away, and because of that I got beaten up, too.”

He is currently receiving treatment for his injuries at a local clinic and is not in serious condition, his uncle said.

According to his grandmother, however, it may take longer for him to recover from the mental injuries that were inflicted on him in the attack. She said he has stopped volunteering and now refuses to leave their home.

“He just yells ‘May Mother Su be released’ every day at home. He won’t go outside,” she told Myanmar Now.

Six people were arrested during the February 15 crackdown at the Takhon Taing roundabout, where thousands had gathered to protest the February 1 coup. They were released the next day on bail, and the protests have since continued.

On the same day, soldiers and police used air guns and slingshots to break up another protest in Mandalay aimed at getting Myanma Economic Bank staff to join a general strike against military rule.

At least three people were injured during that crackdown and a number of people not involved in the protests were among those arrested. A reporter was beaten and briefly detained, but later released.

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