ONE of the photographers who famously captured the Tank Man on film during the bloody Tiananmen Square protests in China has died.
American Charlie Cole passed away in Bali last week three decades after he and three others took startling pictures which shocked the world.
Charlie Cole took his historic picture for Newsweek from the balcony of a nearby hotel[/caption]
The photo-journalist went on to win the World Press Photo award for the moving picture of a lone man standing in the way of a column of tanks on June 5, 1989.
It became the defining image of the pro-democracy protests in which more than 2,500 people are feared to have been killed by troops.
Cole, 64 when he died, took his historic picture for Newsweek from the balcony of a nearby hotel using a telephoto lens.
Guessing he would be searched later by Chinese security, he hid the undeveloped film roll in the bathroom.
Shortly after he took it, officials broke through the hotel door, grabbed his cameras and ripped out the films to destroy evidence of the brutal crackdown.
But they did not find the one he hid in the toilet and he was able to send his pictures around the world.
Texas-born Cole later told how he had expected the “tank man” would be killed adding he felt it was his responsibility to record what was happening.
However, eventually two people pulled him to the side of the road. His whereabouts remain a mystery to this day.
What happened at Tiananmen Square in 1989?
Tanks began moving into position late on June 3 and troops opened fire, killing and injuring many unarmed people in and around the square.
It is generally estimated thousands died and as many as 10,000 were arrested for their part in the demonstrations, with several dozen executed.
The events leading up to the massacre began in April when pro-reform, popular Communist leader Hu Yaobang died.
Thousands of mourning students marched to Tiananmen Square, calling for a more democratic government.
Then in May some began a hunger strike and their numbers swelled, capturing the world’s attention while Communism began to collapse elsewhere.
One rally attracted 1.2 million people but the Chinese government was determined to stay in power.
After the massacre, an image of a man carrying a bag blocking the path of a tank has become the defining image of the democracy movement in China.
Cole once said: “I kept shooting in anticipation of what I felt was his certain doom. But to my amazement the lead tank stopped, then tried to move around him.”
“I think his action captured peoples’ hearts everywhere and when the moment came, his character defined the moment, rather than the moment defining him.
“He made the image. I was just one of the photographers. And I felt honoured to be there.”
Tiananmen is still a heavily censored topic in modern China, and the Tank Man pictures are still banned.
Fellow Tank Man photographer Jeff Widener has also revealed how he felt as he watched the events unfold.
He said: “I was terrified the whole time. I had a concussion. I’d been hit in the head with a rock.
“You don’t know what it’s like having to take a bicycle and ride two miles or so past dead bodies, burnt out buses, and you hear sporadic gunfire.
“I’m pretty sure that, whether they admit it or not, a large portion of the Chinese population is fully aware of that incident with Tank Man.
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“The Tank Man incident is never going to go away and it’s ridiculous the Chinese government keeps trying to hide it.”
Cole’s death comes amid months of civil unrest in Honk Kong – which shows no signs of slowing down.
The pro-democracy protests began in June over controversial extradition proposals between the colony and mainland China.
Four photographers captured the moment a lone protester stood in the way of a column of tanks[/caption]
The bodies of civilians lie among mangled bicycles near Beijing’s Tiananmen Square[/caption]