Remember 'God's Army' Twins? Warriors No More

Myanmar's Johnny and Luther Htoo lead much quieter lives now
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 2, 2013 8:45 AM CDT
Remember 'God's Army' Twins? Warriors No More
In this Sept. 26, 2013 photo, Johnny, left, and his twin brother Luther Htoo pose for photos after their reunion at a restaurant in Sangkhlaburi district of Kanchanaburi province, western Thailand.   (Apichart Weerawong)

When they were kids, Johnny and Luther Htoo were bulletproof and invulnerable to land mines—or so went the story that briefly made them famous as hundreds of guerrillas followed and even worshiped them in the southeastern jungles of Myanmar. Today, more than a decade later, their "God's Army" is no more, and the twins' greatest accomplishment may be that both are still alive at age 25. Luther lives in Sweden. Johnny remains at an unofficial refugee camp inside Thailand, not far from where the brothers were sent after they surrendered to Thai authorities in 2001.

A joint interview with the AP last month highlighted the different lives the Htoo brothers have led since then. Luther appeared almost chic in a traditional Karen blouse over jeans, and his silver hoop hearings. Johnny wore an old button-down shirt several sizes too big, an evident charity hand-me-down. He looked weary and nervous. Members of their Karen ethnic group who have long sought autonomy in Myanmar have laid down their arms since a military dictatorship gave way to a nominally civilian government in 2011. "It's not fun to fight anymore, now that I'm afraid to die," said Luther. "No one wants to fight unless they have to, you know."

  • Click for the full interview, which recounts how the twins' legend began to grow in 1997, when journalists were amazed to see how they were treated as near deities.
(More God's Army stories.)

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