One of the most unforgettable scenes was of a man standing in front of a column of tanks on June 5, the morning after the violent crackdown began.
Wearing a white shirt and black trousers, holding a shopping bag in each hand, this iconic image of a man-tank standoff has been seen worldwide, and come to symbolize the event for many.
The Tank Man. pic.twitter.com/IiGCzUk5P2
— Awwal Ibrahim (@Mr_Babson) March 7, 2015
The most-used photograph of the Tank Man was taken by American photographer Jeff Widener. The shot is at a high angle from a sixth-floor balcony about half a mile away from the scene.
This recently posted picture on Weibo was of the same scene but at ground level. It was taken by journalist Terril Jones, but wasn’t released til 2009. It shows students fleeing, while the Tank Man resolutely stands his ground in the distance.
He is often referred to as Wang Weilin, but no one knows if that was really his name. Although the tanks tried to dodge him, and he was eventually hustled off, Wang is believed to have perished after standing in front of another line of tanks that didn’t stop.
Another Weibo blogger coincidentally posted a model version of the tank column with the mocking comment: “Oops! The chess piece (for an attacking move) slipped off.”
The massacre is taboo, and has been silenced and censored by the Chinese authorities ever since. Both photos were removed from the mainland blogosphere not long after they were posted there.
So what made these Chinese netizens so outspoken and daring?
As the net tightens, perhaps new hope and changes are coming…?