Top: A Chinese man stands alone to block a line of tanks heading east on Beijing’s Cangan Boulevard in Tiananmen Square, on on June 5, 1989. The man, calling for an end to violence and bloodshed against pro-democracy demonstrators, was pulled away by bystanders, and the tanks continued on their way.
Center-left: Workmen try to drape the portrait of Mao Tse-tung in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square after it was pelted with paint, on May 23, 1989.
Center-right: Bodies of dead civilians lie among crushed bicycles near Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, on June 4, 1989.
Bottom: Three unidentified men flee as a Chinese man, background left, stands alone to block a line of approaching tanks, in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, on June 5, 1989. The man in the background stood his ground and blocked the column of tanks when they came closer, an image captured on film by numerous other photographers and one that ultimately became a widely reproduced symbol of events there.
See more. [Images: AP, Reuters]
23 years ago today, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army violently cleared Beijing’s Tiananmen Square of protesters, ending a six-week demonstration that had called for democracy and widespread political reform. The protests began in April of 1989, gaining support as initial government reactions included concessions. Martial law was declared on May 20, troops were mobilized, and from the night of June 3 through the early morning of June 4, the PLA pushed into Tiananmen Square, crushing some protesters and firing on many others.
The exact number killed may never be known, but estimates range from several hundred to several thousand. Today, China’s censors are blocking Internet access to the terms “six four,” “23,” “candle,” and “never forget,” broadening extensive efforts to silence talk about the 23rd anniversary of China’s bloody June 4 crackdown. Here is that story, in images and words. Please share it widely.
Officials took note of where people where people were taking pictures and later tried to confiscate all of the film. The photographer who took the famous image of the man in front of the tank saved it by hiding it in the toilet tank.