Kenji Nagai and the Dinosaurs of Burma


One of the defining characteristics of dinosaurs is not to know when time is up. An oversight that can have fatal consequences.

Senior General Than Shwe, 74, may have pushed his luck when after 15 years in command as the head of Burma’s military junta, he allowed and possibly instructed his soldiers to open fire on foreign journalist, Kenji Nagai, who was shot and executed in front of cameras three days ago.

Kenji Nagai, a 50 years old Japanese photojournalist, was killed whilst taking photos of the recent, largely peaceful anti-government protests.

Dinosaurs are extinct because they did not absorb the changes that had occurred in their habitat. The Burmese generals repeat the dinosaurs’ costly mistake of not understanding that it was one thing, in 1988, to kill 30,000 Burmese citizens, when the country was closed off from the eyes of the rest of the world, and quite another circumstance once the digital century had spread throughout the world. Digital eyes are everywhere now.

Twenty years on, Burmese military brutality can not possibly happen without being noticed by the rest of the world. Only hours after the death of Kenji Nagai, the outside world could witness how the photographer was pushed to the ground, shot and killed.




The Internet, YouTube, Internet blogs, mobile phones, and digital video cameras manage to instantly expose the brutal offensive against their own people, blatantly carried out by the military regime of so-called Myanmar, in a way that is quite unprecedented. The goalposts have changed since 8888, as the last Burmese uprising was called, and it won’t take long before the generals realize their current offside position.

Monks in Burma have historically been at the forefront of protests – first against the colonialism of the British and later against military dictatorship. Monks also played a prominent part in the failed 1988 pro-democracy rebellion. Monks are being killed, threatened and imprisoned at this very moment but the blatant actions of Than Shwe’s clique of generals look like no more than a desperate last effort to hide their impotence in the face of the inevitable.

If my understanding of the situation in Burma is correct, Kenji Nagai’s death may well have served a purpose.

Peace, Kenji-san.


One response to “Kenji Nagai and the Dinosaurs of Burma

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