Tortured orphan returns to school

A nine-year-old boy who was hospitalised last month in southern Burma with signs of severe torture has been able to return to school following an outpouring of public support from Burmese at home and abroad.

The story of Htake Kwat, an orphan who had been forced into working at a teashop in Irrawaddy division, grabbed headlines after images emerged of him lying on a hospital bed covered in gruesome burn marks.

He arrived at the local hospital in Henzada town in late June. Local sources said that hot irons had been applied to his stomach, back and thighs, and burning plastic poured on his forearm. He also recounted how he had been fed animal faeces.

The alleged perpetrator, identified as Sett Hmu Htay Win and who was the son-in-law of the teashop owner, was quickly arrested and given a seven year prison sentence.

One month on, and Htake Kwat is living with his great aunt in Henzada. After his story went public, donations began to pour in through a monastery in the town, and he was able to receive medical treatment.

Doctors had initially ejected him from hospital when they leant he had no financial support, an issue that also prevented him from gaining legal assistance.

But his fortunes have changed, according to residents of Henzada who mounted a campaign to bring attention to his plight.

“[Recently], relatives of a Henzada resident who are living in Singapore sent 200,000 kyat [$US250] for him to the monastery,” said a local man. “[Htake Kwat] the waiter is now a student – this is his new life and he is happy to have this student life which he never had a chance to dream of.”

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