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From: E. Phillip Lim <webxity@CYBERWAY.COM.SG>
Subject: MM + TH: Is the news media making too much of Karen twins, Johnny and Luther?
Date: Friday, April 28, 2000 2:51 AM

God's Army short of food and losing support

The Straits Times Interactive
11 April 2000

SUAN PHUM (Thailand) -- On the run and short of food, God's Army has split into three small groups, two of which are led by the twins and the third by another 12-year-old.

The twins now talk to each other only by hand-held radio and are said to command fewer than 200 fighters, including child soldiers.

The leader of the third group is another 12-year- old called Chopa Thupli, or King of the Black Tongue.

This boy, a guerilla said, is actually 200-years old, a Thai king who once fought against the Burmese and decided to return as a Karen so that he could keep on fighting them.

His divinity is believed to be shown by the black colouring on his tongue. Some people believe the black colouring is a sign of magical powers.

The guerilla said the twins did not have black tongues, as others have reported.

But, he added, the twins were reincarnations of past leaders.

Luther and his brother, Johnny, became the objects of widespread curiosity abroad when 10 gunmen, then believed to be members of God's Army, were shot dead after taking hostage more than 800 patients and staff at a hospital in the town of Ratchaburi.

They also became the targets of a stepped-up hunt by the Myanmar military and found themselves barred from their potential sanctuary in Thailand. They also lost the support of other Karen rebels who are now under increased pressure on both sides of the border as a result of the disastrous raid.

The Karens have been fighting a separatist insurgency since Myanmar became independent of British colonial rule a half-century ago. Most other ethnic groups have reached an accommodation with the government in the last decade, but some Karens have continued to fight. -- New York Times

Copyright © 2000 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. All rights reserved.

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