Tiananmen Square 25th Anniversary: How the Uprising and Massacre Unfolded

In April 1989 protestors began gathering in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, demanding China's Communist government begin democratic reforms.

Demonstrators occupied the square in the centre of Beijing for several weeks - at the height of the protests about a million people gathered there - until the Chinese government ordered the violent crackdown which led to the massacre on 4 June.

The Chinese government has suppressed the release of any information about the event, so the death toll varies wildly from the official government figure of about 300 to Amnesty International's estimate of around 1,000.

17 May 1989: Students from Beijing University receive first aid in a makeshift tent in Tiananmen Square, during the fifth day of their hunger strikeAFP
17 May 1989: A group of journalists support the pro-democracy protest in Tiananmen SquareReuters
18 May 1989: Chinese workers parade through Beijing streets on motorbikes in support of hunger strikers in Tiananmen SquareAFP
19 May 1989: The late Zhao Ziyang, then secretary general of the Communist Party of China, addresses hunger strikers through a megaphoneAFP
20 May 20, 1989: Pro-democracy demonstrators stop a truck filled with soldiers on its way to Tiananmen Square after martial law was invokedAFP
22 May 1989: A military helicopter drops leaflets warning the student protesters to leave Tiananmen SquareReuters
23 May 1989: Workmen cover Tiananmen Square's portrait of Mao Tse-tung after it was pelted with paintReuters
25 May 1989: Workers in a digger shout slogans as they drive in front of the Forbidden City during a rally to support the pro-democracy protestAFP
2 June 1989: Thousands of people defy martial law to gather around the Goddess of Democracy: a 10m replica of the Statue of LibertyAFP
3 June 1989: A dissident student asks soldiers to go back home as crowds flood into central BeijingAFP
4 June 1989: An armoured personnel carrier (APC) is set on fire near Tiananmen SquareAFP
4 June, 1989: Students help a captured tank driver to safety, as the crowd beats himReuters
4 June 1989: Beijing residents inspect APCs burnt by demonstrators to stop troops moving into Tiananmen SquareAFP

After efforts to move the protesters along peacefully failed, the military intervened.

On the evening of 3 June, armoured personnel vehicles (APCs) sealed off the square, surrounding the students. Then soldiers from China's People's Liberation Army advanced on Tiananmen Square and opened fire on the protesters, using live ammunition and bullets which expanded on impact, causing devestating wounds on their victims.

Troops reportedly fired at random, killing and wounding people living in apartment blocks around the square.

Any resistance was put down with lethal force, effectively ending the protests.

4 June 1989: People's Liberation Army soldiers leap over a barrier on Tiananmen Square as troops forcibly end the occupation by student protesters by using lethal forceAFP
4 June 1989: A girl wounded during clashes between the army and students near Tiananmen Square is carried out on a cartAFP
4 June 1989: Two injured people are carried out of the square on a bikeAFP
4 June 1989: A blood-covered protester holds a soldier's helmet following violent clashes with military forces in Tiananmen SquareReuters

The morning after the massacre, as tanks rolled through Beijing, cameras captured the image which has come to define this incident: a lone man carrying a shopping bag in each hand, standing in the path of a column of tanks.

Today the unnamed protester is known as 'Tank Man'. He is seen as a symbol of peaceful protest and defiance against violence and force.

5 June 1989: 'Tank Man' stands in front of a column of tanks in the Avenue of Eternal Peace, the day after the Tiananmen Square uprising was crushedReuters

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