Myanmar Disability Groups Condemn Beating of Disabled Man at Protest

By The Irrawaddy 19 February 2021

Yangon — Organizations representing people with disabilities and civil society organizations have slammed soldiers and police who beat a young man with mental and physical disabilities during a crackdown on protesters on Monday in Mandalay.

Myanmar Federation of Persons with Disabilities released a statement and around 60 other organizations released a separate joint statement strongly condemning the soldiers and police.

“Other citizens are also subject to beating. But he is both physically and mentally disabled and cannot run away. It is bullying by the police to brutally beat such a person,” said U Aung Ko Myint, chairman of the federation.

“Isn’t it crueler to do like that to someone who can’t dodge and defend himself? It is against every law,” he added.

Ko Han Thet Zaw was at the protest with friends to help volunteers collect trash when police and soldiers arrived and forcibly dispersed the crowd. The video shows him being kicked by a soldier as he fell after being hit by several police officers.

The 21-year-old was hit twice in the face and five times in the shoulder, according to his family.

“Other people ran but he could not. Once [police] said don’t run, he just circled around and was then beaten. He fell and a neighbor saw him and brought him home,” said his uncle.

“I don’t accept violence in an anarchical manner. I condemn committing group violence like a gang against someone with a mental disability,” he added.

Myanmar ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2011 and enacted the Law on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2015.

“No matter who is in office and taking control, they should abide by the convention. It bans violence against physically and mentally disabled people,” said chairman U Myat Thu Win of the Shweminthar Foundation, which helps people with disabilities.

On Tuesday, Myanmar’s military also detained a regional lawmaker for Einme Township of Ayeyarwady Region, who has a disability.

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