Poignant messages sent by executed hostage Kenji Goto on Twitter before he was taken hostage bear silent witness to his courage as a journalist in a conflict zone.
Tens of thousands of well-wishers have been paying tribute to Goto by forwarding posts visible on his @kenjigotoip account page.
“Closing my eyes and holding still. If I get mad or scream, it would be over,” Goto wrote. “It’s like praying. Hatred is not for humans. Judgment lies with God. I learned this from my Arab brothers.”
This tweet, which the churchgoing Christian posted on Sept. 7, 2010, drew widespread attention.
By noon on Tuesday, it had been translated into English and shared by nearly 30,000 Twitter users worldwide. Many read the words as an admonition against vengeance.
Goto had been an active Twitter user, posting some 200 messages up until the time he disappeared in Syria. The tweets focus on the voices of civilians in war-torn regions the world over.
“I don’t need tears to report from the scene,” reads one message he posted in December 2012, a reference to a theater of war. “My mission is to document in detail what is really happening, and convey people’s foolishness, ugliness, unfairness, sadness and their lives at stake.”
In his career as a freelance journalist, Goto reported from Liberia, Iraq, Kosovo, and Afghanistan. He would share the stories of locals with his thousands of followers. He once said that watching suffering “makes me feel my chest grow tight.”
Goto also appeared to be prepared for death.
“It was the first time I visualized myself being blown to pieces,” he tweeted in February 2014, describing a scene of violence he had witnessed.
In a post that appeared in April 2012, the journalist shared a video showing him reporting from a refugee camp in Turkey with thousands of Syrian refugees. It also shows him in a Syrian village, where he hoped to learn “what local people are really thinking and feeling” about the situation in their country.
His last tweet is dated Oct. 23, shortly before he left for Syria, reportedly to try to find Haruna Yukawa, who disappeared in August.
A video showing Goto beheaded appeared online Sunday morning.