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June 6th, 2009:

Tiananmen Square

This week marked the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square uprising over democratic reforms in Beijing on 5th June, 1989.

NYT-Tiananmen Front Page

So effective has been the suppression of the events in Tiananmen Square even 20 years on this image is still not widely recognised by young people in China. Indeed China has cracked down to ensure that the anniversary is not commemorated, banning foreign reporters from the Square, and searching locals entering in (The Age – US urges inquiry [^]) to prevent any demonstrations.

The Lens, the photojournalism blog of the New York Times, has posted “Behind the Scenes: Tank Man of Tiananmen [^]”. It shows four photos from different viewpoints of a lone man facing a column of tanks. The post also gives the photographers the opportunity to report the event leading up to this moment, and the risks that they took to get the images out of China to the rest of the world in the pre-Internet age.

Interestingly, a photographer, Terril Jones, has come forward with “A New Angle on History [^]”. This a previously unseen view of the Tank Man, the only image taken from street level. Mr Jones did not realise until he had returned to Japan what he had managed to capture, and missed the opportunity to have the photo published. Thankfully, an appropriate moment has now arrived.

In “Classic Photo Redux” we posted a copy of Mike Stimpson’s Lego recreation of the NY Times front page photo. Anything that keeps the atrocities of two decades ago in everyone’s minds needs to be commended. Democratic reform in the world’s third largest economy still hasn’t happened.