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In Pictures: The Tiananmen Massacre, 30 years on – The final days of the pro-democracy movement

The Tiananmen Massacre unfolded on June 4, 1989 ending months of student-led demonstrations in China. It is estimated that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people died when the People’s Liberation Army was deployed to crack down on protesters in Beijing. See our special section on the day that shook the world.

1989 tiananmen protests before the massacre

Beijing workers sitting in a bulldozer shout slogans as they drive through Tiananmen Square. Photo: Catherine Henriette/AFP.

See also: In Pictures: June 4, 1989 – the night the tanks rolled into Beijing’s Tiananmen Square

1989 tiananmen protests before the massacre

A child riding on their father’s shoulders observes the student demonstrators on Beijing’s Jianguomenwai Avenue, 4km east of Tiananmen Square. Photo: AFP.

1989 tiananmen protests before the massacre

A portrait of Chinese communist leader Mao Zedong which hangs over the entrance to the Forbidden City in Tiananmen Square is defaced with a trail of blue, red and yellow paint, on 23 May 1989. Photo: Catherine Henriette/AFP.

1989 tiananmen protests before the massacre

A Chinese student stands guard in front of the Tiananmen Gate in occasional heavy rains in Beijing on May 23, 1989. Unidentified people covered the portrait of China’s Communist founding father Mao Zedong (R, background) with a khaki canvas after it was defaced with a trail of blue, red and yellow paint by three pro-democracy demonstrators. Photo: AFP.

1989 tiananmen protests before the massacre

Two city buses block the main street to Tiananmen Square, Jianguomen Avenue, on 21 May 1989 to keep the military forces out. Photo: Catherine Henriette/AFP.

1989 tiananmen protests before the massacre

Exhausted Chinese students sleep on the ground at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on May 21, 1989. Photo: Naochiro Kimura/AFP.

1989 tiananmen protests before the massacre

A Chinese student demonstrator shouts slogans with his fist clenched at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on May 21, 1989. Photo: Naochiro Kimura/AFP.

1989 tiananmen protests before the massacre

Raising a banner which reads “Lift Martial Law and Protect the Capital”, journalists from the Communist party’s official newspaper, the “People’s Daily” lead a march towards Tiananmen Square, 22 May 1989. Photo: Catherine Henriette/AFP.

1989 tiananmen protests before the massacre

A picture dated 18 May 1989 shows Beijing magistrates wearing court uniforms joining workers demonstrating in Beijing streets in support of student hunger strikers gathered at Tiananmen Square. Photo: Catherine Henriette/AFP.

1989 tiananmen protests before the massacre

Chinese students gather in Tiananmen Square, in Beijing on May 13, 1989. Photo: Vitaly Armand/AFP.

1989 tiananmen protests before the massacre

Sitting cross legged, a student hunger striker from Beijing University seems to be lost in meditation on 14 May 1989. Photo: Catherine Henriette/AFP.

1989 tiananmen protests before the massacre

A truckload of teachers from Beijing Normal University rush towards Tiananmen Square, on 20 May 1989, to support student hunger strikers. Photo: Catherine Henriette/AFP.

1989 tiananmen protests before the massacre

Pro-democracy demonstrators raise their fists and flash victory signs on 20 May 1989 in Beijing as they stop a military truck filled with soldiers on its way to Tiananmen Square. Photo: Catherine Henriette/AFP.


Kong Tsung-gan‘s new collection of essays – narrative, journalistic, documentary, analytical, polemical, and philosophical – trace the fast-paced, often bewildering developments in Hong Kong since the 2014 Umbrella Movement. As Long As There Is Resistance, There Is Hope is available exclusively through HKFP with a min. HK$200 donation. Thanks to the kindness of the author, 100 per cent of your payment will go to HKFP’s critical 2019 #PressForFreedom Funding Drive.

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In Pictures: The Tiananmen Massacre, 30 years on - The final days of the pro-democracy movement