[16] The group held 700 to 800 patients and staff members hostage for 22 hours.

“We want to do this, not only for Karen people, but all people in Burma.”, Padoh Saw Hser Bwe, a joint general secretary of the Karen National Union, the largest Karen political force, remembers the magical powers that Johnny and Luther used to wield, their status “just one step lower than God.”, “They have lost their magic power, and they are now in a foolish state,” he said. “I miss the jungle,” said Johnny, who now lives in the village in Thailand, after spending years in the refugee camp. The Karen who lived on the land received almost nothing. “I don’t want to go home.”. The God’s Army’s fortunes took a calamitous turn after it became enmeshed with an even more fringe group that led attacks on Myanmar’s embassy in … The biggest Karen population in the West is in the United States, where tens of thousands of refugees have congregated. Many of the rest retreated into the malarial bush, only to abandon their shacks when Myanmar soldiers launched offensives. Now, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi’s refusal to adequately condemn the military’s abuses means that she, too, has lost the trust of Myanmar’s ethnic minorities and of an international community that once conferred upon her a collection of human rights awards. “Maybe those guys were something before. In January 2000, 10 members of God's Army seized a hospital in Ratchaburi, Thailand. “I think it’s cool that they could be invisible,” she said. [6][7] God's Army was led by brothers Johnny and Luther Htoo beginning in 1997, who were at that time estimated to be only ten years of age. After a couple years of online dating, she asked him to come home to Myanmar. In 2015, a Karen teenager who had arrived in New Bern less than two years earlier walked next door to where another refugee family from Myanmar lived and killed three children with a machete. God's Army,  an offshoot of the Karen National Union, was an armed, revolutionary Christian force that opposed the military government of Burma/Myanmar. “Drunk,” his girlfriend’s mother, Naw Htay Myint, said, more an observation than an indictment. Luther moved his lips with the lyrics on the screen. Surely someone was impersonating Luther Htoo, one of the boy twins who had commanded God’s Army. But neighbors stared when Karen families tried to dry fish outside. “Drunk,” whispered Hser Ler El, one of Johnny’s friends and followers. The spectrum of violence represented by these groups is vast, from Jihadists who bomb train stations to financial institutions that transfer funds. Luther lasted a decade in Gotene, a small town with three other Karen families and one Chinese restaurant. Formation of God's Army (1997) The Htoo twins are from an area of eastern Burma populated by the Karen ethnic group.The Karen and Burmese army had fought at various times for over fifty years, but in the early 1990s the Burmese army launched a major operation to secure the route of an oil pipeline through the area. The Htoo boys — one with flowing hair and the poignant contemplation of a Raphael, the other with a fierce determination that belied his young years — generated worldwide attention when their crusade ended in a storm of bullets. “You know that you are being shot at but the bullets don’t hit.”. Saw Nang contributed reporting from Nat Than Kwin, and Muktita Suhartono from Suan Phueng, Thailand. TRAC fully supports academic institutions and provides subscriptions on a reduced rate based on FTE. Her paper earned an “excellent” in assessments. Below it was a pucker of scarred skin. Some fight the Myanmar Army. They have been described as a terrorist organisation. Saw Ma Cher helped found, worries every time her father returns from work at a poultry processing plant. Someone told him the seafood was good in Sweden. Myanmar Army offensives forced them into the forests along the porous border between Myanmar and Thailand when they were in kindergarten, and the boys were expected to join the Karen National Liberation Army, the largest Karen militia, as their father had. For other uses, see, seizure of the Myanmar embassy in Bangkok, "Burmese Rebel Chief More Boy Than Warrior", "Child Terrorists Hold Hundreds Hostage in Thailand (washingtonpost.com)", "God's Army -- Myanmar | Terrorist Groups | TRAC", "Terrorist Organization Profile: God's Army", National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, "Bizarre 'God's Army' Led By Young Boys Surrenders", "PressReader.com - Connecting People Through News", "Burmese Rebel Twins and 14 Followers Surrender in Thailand", "BBC News | Asia-Pacific | Embassy gunmen flee", "Child Terrorists Hold Hundreds Hostage in Thailand", Campaign at the China–Burma border (1960–1961), https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=God%27s_Army_(revolutionary_group)&oldid=983444576, Paramilitary organisations based in Myanmar, Articles containing Burmese-language text, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 14 October 2020, at 07:58. You are currently only seeing 1% of the 10,000-plus pieces of expert insights and analyses available with a TRAC subscription. Myanmar military assaults virtually wiped the group out, and the remnants, along with Johnny and Luthor fled to Thailand in January, 2001. By the time the twins were a decade old, the villagers said, the boys had assembled armies of invisible men who could ambush Myanmar soldiers with barely a rustle of bamboo to give away their positions. “From my mother I was born in blood, and I will die in blood, too.”.

Mr. Eh Na Wah was shot in a firefight in 1998, when God’s Army tried to fend off a brigade of Myanmar soldiers. They planted "booby" traps in the hospital and threatened to blow up the hospital. He sleeps when others are awake, curled up like a quotation mark missing its companion. [12], God's Army[2] was situated in mountainous rainforests along the border between Burma and Thailand.

One evening, in a jungle clearing in front of their shack, Luther and his girlfriend’s family gathered around a cellphone to watch a video of a gospel choir. Now adults, they are contending with the trauma of exile, alcohol and loss. อ่านบทความนี้ในภาษาไทย | ဤဆောင်းပါးကို မြန်မာဘာသာဖြင့် ဖတ်ပါ။. Across the country, Myanmar’s ethnic minorities continue to suffer. She is worried, like everyone else, about his drinking. NAT THAN KWIN, Myanmar — Johnny Htoo lay on a concrete floor. The night insects hurtled at the screen, attracted by the light.

In 2000, members of the extremist student group and God’s Army stormed a hospital in Ratchaburi, a Thai town not far from the border with Myanmar, and took hundreds of patients as hostages. [17] Thai security forces stormed the hospital, killing all 10 of the gunmen. For multiple users rates contact TRAC. “I’m still living,” Luther said, an accomplishment in itself. This effectively brought an end to God's Army. She once wrote an essay for school on the Karen. She was once respected by Myanmar’s ethnic groups for the legacy of her father, the independence hero Gen. Aung San, who formed a nation by pledging equality for all of Burma’s peoples. They have been described as a terrorist organisation. As Myanmar infantrymen surged over the densely forested hills, the Karen National Liberation Army lost hundreds of soldiers. God's Army (Burmese: ဘုရားသခင်၏ တပ်မတော်) was an armed revolutionary Christian insurgent group that opposed the then military junta of Myanmar (Burma). The legend of the boys was embraced by locals who viewed the existing Karen National Union as corrupt and ineffective. Johnny’s cousin soothes him and holds his hands, which shake with tremors. Johnny could be petulant. She wrote about how the Karen call their homeland Kawthoolei, how the Myanmar Army raped and killed, how children were turned into human land-mine detectors. When the coronavirus began infecting workers in factories around New Bern, about 70 Karen fell ill. One has died. Thierry Falise/LightRocket, via Getty Images. For Naw Lay Kapaw Wah, living in a Karen village where Myanmar soldiers had sent inhabitants fleeing into the forest, the Facebook friend request seemed like a prank. On Johnny’s arm is a tattoo, its Karen script rough like that of a child who grew up in the rainforest, measuring his height against an M16 rifle. Copyright © 2020 TRAC - All rights reserved. Her older sister found work at a nail salon, and her older brother is in the Marine Corps. When Luther and Johnny were toddling around, Myanmar soldiers had begun clearing the forest to make way for a natural gas pipeline that would bring riches to the country’s military dictatorship. Hundreds of miles away, in the forests of eastern Myanmar, the light from a cheap cellphone shone on Luther Htoo’s bare chest, where a tattoo of the flag of the Karen people covered his heart. Adult soldiers prayed in a circle and then lifted the twins on their shoulders during battle, like child amulets. Members of the Karen National Liberation Army in 1988.

God's Army -- Myanmar, also known as God's Army of the Holy Mountain is an inactive group formed c. 1997.

There were at least 10 bullet wounds on his body, he said. We could hunt more animals in the forest, and we were safe because they protected us.”. Johnny, center, being carried by a soldier in 1998. [11] After the raid, God's Army were strenuously pursued by the Tatmadaw (Burmese armed forces) and shunned by other Karen rebels. He is back home in Myanmar but still feels as lost as any exile. She reached her hand toward the phone screen, as if she were caressing his hair. Many more lost limbs, livelihoods and their grip on reality.

But the fish, giant and meaty, was not like the small river fish he used to catch, the sweetest flesh between tight bones.

It was her proudest moment in school. This year, Ms. Sel Lay Moo won a scholarship to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. His soldiers, men hardened from one of the world’s most enduring civil wars, believed that Johnny and Luther Htoo could magically shield them from bullets — child talismans for an oppressed people, the ethnic Karen of Myanmar. It doesn’t take any English to lop off 2,000 turkey tails in an hour. Johnny, left, and Luther Htoo in 1999.

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