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Thursday, 27 September 2007


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It's shit like this that makes me wish I'd become a photojournalist.

I am not trying to make a joke.

That series of pictures is powerful and relevant, something I can say about few things I see in the billions of photos out there today. And they were SHOT ON VIDEO.

Such a painful image. It looks as though he was singled out amongst the crowd. It's horrifying to think of a military firing on unarmed civilian protestors, but even more tragic that they singled out a journalist.



Its always the innocent bystander who dies first. Kenjii showed his professionalism and commitment to the story right to the very end. May he rest in peace.

I honestly just cannot understand what is going on in Burma. Surely the soldiers are just ordinary people, probably earning very measly sums of money for their service, maybe enough for a regular meal and a roof over their heads, but certainly not possibly enough to warrant the kind of "loyalty" to the military dictatorship that governs the country that would be required to carry out such cold blooded actions. I just do not understand why the soldiers would carry out such an ultimatum as seems to be happening. What is it that makes the soldiers on the ground feel that they must do this, that they cannot come together as one and defy the obvious human rights abuses they are being told to carry out?

Here is the close-up: http://drugoi.livejournal.com/2337740.html

No end could be better for a japanese warrior but with his sword in his hands.

When innocent students were killed when the military fired into the crowd at Kent State, less than half our country was outraged. I was working at a drug store luncheonette at the time, and I remember one customer commenting that he thought it was about time. Ostensibly, those killings were not ordered by the government. I am glad that 40 years later we are horrified at such a sight. When will we learn that violence is not the answer?

I'm deeply moved. This man is a hero.

I don't think Kenji Nagai died for nothing. It looks like US, France and UK will hold the pressure on the evil dictators of Burma. May there finally be peace and freedom in the region of Indochina. God knows they have seen enough blood for a hundred years. France and US know that too.

Why is a journalist's death more tragic than the death of an unarmed civilian protestor ?

I have just written an email to the Australian Burmese ambassador regarding the situation there and drawing attention to the death Kenji Nagai. It was the only thing that I felt I could do.

"Why is a journalist's death more tragic than the death of an unarmed civilian protestor?"

It's not, but this is not a blog for unarmed civilian protesters. It is a blog for photographers, among them many photojournalists.


I don't think I am naive about human nature but I am just horrified that people can slaughter and abuse their own kind. I know that it has happened throughout history but I will never understand. I feel great pain for the family of the photographer, who was doing nothing but taking pictures of an uprising against horrific government leaders. I send my thoughts and prayers to the monks and people who are fighting for a better life.

Sorry Mike, I was replying to Scott's comment that it was more tragic to have hit a journalist than the unarmed protestors, not the story.


Great posting Mike,

I met some students from Burma when i was in Thailand 20 years ago. The stories I heard were beyong crazy. They assured us that if the Thai military or police sent them back accross the bridge, literally right across the river that they had a very good chance of not living more than a few weeks.

Kenji and others (and the numbers will increase) lost their llives trying to show the world this injustice that his been going on for decades.

Talk about a *GOOD use of our military. I will leave it at that........

PS the internet has been taken down in Burma today. What a bunch of creampuffs.

* I am always and forever conflicted about any good use of the military.

Reading Sam's comment, I'll say that's a shortsightedness that we all share in some way or another. The word freedom, which is so widely used today, has it's highest meaning when it's about freedom of conditioning, or indoctrination. We are all conditioned in one way or another, and for many conditioning is strong enough as to justify going against obvious principles, as, for example, not killing another human being. Institutions are based on conditioning. How could the catholic church have an Inquisition at some point?
For some, accepting the possibility of some concepts (as internal institutions) to be challenged would mean complete breakdown of personality structure, because their cultural conditioning is interweaved with their life's deeper meaning. That's why you have a religious fundamentalist.
The main positive point about Occidental culture, and mainly what should be a cardinal virtue for USA now would be the ability to allow each individual to make his own mind, to live his own life. Countries with heavy colorful cultural "burdens" usually leave individuals with a lot less margin to choose. But also, the ones that feel free to question, should understand that in most cases a country is not burdened because of its government, its burdened because each individual has accepted or failed to reject their "burden" (or education). The biggest task in a man's life is choosing what you are, that is, what to leave behind of what you were taught, what to keep, and what new things to make yours.
Most people lack freedom, not because there are rifles pointed at them but because they are conditioned (and probably their loved ones were the ones who started the nasty job). The monks might not have been free in this situation (might be they felt it was their religious duty), as the soldiers weren't for sure, but we don't know. The photographer was probably the only one that wasn't caught in their inner struggle (but he might have had his own).
But reality can't be read at face value, although it sure is easier.

Perhaps this will force the Japanese government to stop being the second largest financial supporter of Burma after China. One doubts it as the new foreign minister said earlier that Japan should be careful about joining western nations in "bashing" Burma. The TV news reports in Japan this evening were "bashing" Burma even if the government isn't.

One thing we can all do, is to stop referring to Burma as Myanmar, or Rangoon as Yangon.

It only gives a measure of respect to the same murderous thugs who killed Kenji Nagai, etc.

We should do as the Brits do, and as the Burmese themselves do.

Call it Burma. Call it Rangoon.


Nothing has changed since Gerda Taro died during the Spanish Civil War. This is a painful reminder that photojournalism can be a very dangerous way to make a living. Yet, it is owing to people like Mr. Nagai that we can experience war through their images of it. These are very brave people.

If you want to do whatever you can to help end this situation visit:


Or contact your State Representative.

In my eyes, which are wet, Kenji Nagai performed a final act of heroism there, lets not forget and hope his footage gets released.


"Why is a journalist's death more tragic than the death of an unarmed civilian protestor ?"

you might ask why the deaths of firefighters Sept. 11 had such resonance. Some deaths do matter more, and sometimes it is because someone--in this case a PJ--is going in harm's way on our behalf.

I wasn't comparing the death of this photojournalist to the deaths of others in Myanmar. I was comparing the importance of the photos of what's happening in Burma to the millions of photos taken without regard to what's happening in the world.

I can see where Robert Phillips got my comment wrong, however... It's because I pinpointed the ones on video. Well, that's significant too, for reasons we've talked about on this site. But it was an aside.

Japan protested strongly and for what it's worth, Burma apologizes.

Kenji Nagai's death was indeed caught on video. He was shot at almost point blank range by a Burmese soldier and it seems quite clear that Kenji Nagai was not a physical threat to anyone just before he was killed.

The video was recently broadcast on Japanese TV and can be seen here:


It's horrifying to see Kenji Nagai try to get up, in that youtube video, when you know it's fatal.

Sam Murphy,

I believe you should have a look up on something called the "Milgram experiment" & the "Stanford prison experiment". That may alleviate your displaced understanding of the soliders, and then realize what has happened to our soliders...

It's pretty sad, the headlines today could have been written in the middle ages. Sectarian violence, genocide, the rich prey on the poor , the strong on the week, war and suppression and disregard of human dignity and life. We are just as savage today as we were in the stone ages we just have bigger rocks to beat each other with.

Singled out the journalist? I doubt that. That sucks bad that this brave man was killed. My heart goes out to his family. However, the only way that journalist was singled out was by the media. Is he the first to die in these protests? Heck no! But, a MUCH huger deal is being made of Kenji Nagai's death then the deaths of the people that died simply speaking out for their cause. They didn't even get paid for it. I don't believe for one second that he was singled out as a journalist. If that policy were in effect, there would be a lot more journalists lying dead in the streets of Myanmar. He was the next victim in line for the big round up at the coliseum that the politicians of Myanmar have orchestrated.

Mr.Kenji,you were a hero!You will be dearly missed and remembered!

These Burmese troops are worse than animals!

I'm so sorry that Nagai San had to die in this horrible situation. Instead of adding to the outrage of everybody (I don't disagree with it), I would like to wish him peace and a safe journey wherever he's heading. My respect, thoughts and prayers go out to Nagai San's family who will, no doubt, miss him the most.

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