Uncertain fate for Karen God Army’s militia twins


AFP

The boy leaders of the God Army’s militia, who were captured two months ago on the Myanmar border, have been reunited with their mother.

Luther and Johnny Htoo burst into tears when their mother Mah Kae was brought from a refugee camp earlier this week to see her 13-year-old sons, said police who have been holding them in this frontier town.

However, the pair’s fate remains uncertain, according to officials in the western province of Ratchaburi who are considering giving them refugee status that will entitle them to asylum in Thailand. “The committee which will decide how they will be classified has until now not begun to meet,” said Suan Pheung District Chief Payakphan Phokaew.

Mah Kae, 48, who posed for photographs Thursday with her elfin-faced sons, said she had been corresponding with them from the refugee camp in far-off Pha Song Yang where she and the twins’ father have been living.

“We knew they had been captured because they sent us a letter to the refugee camp where we are staying, and we sent one back, so we that’s how we contacted each other,” she said as she nursed the boys’ young sister. The painfully shy twins, who appear years younger than their age, made halting replies as they were asked what they believed the future held in store for them.

“It is in the hands of God,” they said. Payakphan said the pair were in good health, despite their heavy smoking habit, and that they would also be reunited with their father shortly. After their capture by Thai troops in January, the Htoo brothers debunked the myths surrounding their militia band and said they dreamed only of returning to Myanmar and going to school like ordinary children. They downplayed their followers’ belief that they possessed magical powers that made them and their fighters invincible in battle against Myanmar troops, saying the stories that they were impervious to gunfire were not true.

Their mystical anti-Myanmar rebel movement, which had gained widespread international publicity, was finally hunted down over a bloody New Year’s Eve raid on a village in Ratchaburi province.

Since then the twins and some dozen supporters, mostly women and children, have been held at this border police headquarters, living together in a small cottage as their future is considered.

Investigators are trying to determine if the twins were involved in the seizure of a major Ratchaburi hospital last year, carried out by God’s Army fighters and rebels from another militia band.

However, the remainder of the group’s members being held here look set to escape punishment over the raid and previous attacks it has staged.