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Les Petits Généraux de Yadana

(The Little Generals of Yadana)

A novel in French published by Anne Carrière in 2005.

Disguised in an fiction, the true story of two kids leading their people to a war for justice against a dictatorship and the corruption of oil corporations

In 1997, the Burmese army launched a vast and ruthless operation of ethnic cleansing. Johnny and Luther Htoo, eight-year-old Karen twins, were chased from their village along with tens of thousands of others. But instead of accepting a life of hopeless drifting through mined countryside, they, with other children and young people, formed a mystical guerilla movement called God's Army. They established their HQ and the bamboo cathedral that housed the religious branch in the jungle. Armed with unshakable faith and the reputation of having supernatural powers, they immediately drew interest of the leaders of the 'official' Karen guerilla, who'd been fighting the Burmese for fifty years and were almost burned out. They took advantage of the two little generals' symbolic power and indirectly managed to convince them to sabotage a gas pipeline built by French and American oil companies. On both sides of the border, the Burmese army and the ruthless Thai Ninth Division launched a merciless hunt on the twins and their soldiers.

The God's Army made the front pages of the international press in January 2000 when a commando of ten young Burmese opponents, linked to the twins, took several hundred people hostage in a Thai hospital, before being subdued and executed by the Thai army. This novel recounts the twins' extraordinary adventure, but also the despair of a people who have been subjected, for so many years, to the exactions of a merciless, archaic dictatorship, which functions with the more-or-less direct complicity of international business interests. It's also the story of a community of children who, with all their artlessness and naivety, tried to palliate an adult world that failed to protect them.

Thierry Falise
Photo-journalist, author