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26 Years Later, The Legacy Of The Tiananmen "Tank Man" Endures

Jun 4, 2015
Today marks the 26th anniversary of the government crackdown on hundreds of peaceful student protesters calling for democratic reform in China, resulting in anywhere from 200 to 2,000 dead (200 being the state-sponsored figure) and several thousand more injured. Countless people were arrested in a week-long period of turmoil, but out of the chaos emerged one of the most powerful and enduring images in human history: The Tank Man. This video, which was released last year on the 25th anniversary, examines the circumstances under which photographer Stuart Franklin took that shot, and how it has resonated with people worldwide ever since.

Franklin was actually among five other photographers who all shot famous photos of the Tank Man from similar vantage points at the Beijing Hotel. To this day, no one knows what became of the Tank Man or the soldiers he confronted. The full footage shows him climbing the front tank and speaking to some of the occupants. He then steps off but continues blocking the tanks when they try to move. Eventually, two mystery figures in blue pull him away. Some reports say these were concerned onlookers, while others say they were undercover officers.

The events of June 4 remain heavily censored by the Chinese government.
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