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

(Newser) – 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.

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.
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)
In this 1999 file photo, Luther Htoo smokes a cigarette. Twin Johnny Htoo is at left. The photos was taken at their jungle base of Ka Mar Pa Law in Myanmar.
In this 1999 file photo, Luther Htoo smokes a cigarette. Twin Johnny Htoo is at left. The photos was taken at their jungle base of Ka Mar Pa Law in Myanmar.   (AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong, File)
Johnny, left, watches his twin brother Luther Htoo play a game on his mobile phone after their reunion at a restaurant in Sangkhlaburi district of Kanchanaburi province, western Thailand.
Johnny, left, watches his twin brother Luther Htoo play a game on his mobile phone after their reunion at a restaurant in Sangkhlaburi district of Kanchanaburi province, western Thailand.   (Apichart Weerawong)
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