Twenty-three years ago today, the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) violently cleared Beijing's Tiananmen Square of protesters, ending a six-week demonstration that had called for democracy and widespread political reform. The protests began in April of 1989, gaining support as initial government reactions included concessions. Martial law was declared on May 20, troops were mobilized, and from the night of June 3 through the early morning of June 4, the PLA pushed into Tiananmen Square, crushing some protesters and firing on many others. The exact number killed may never be known, but estimates range from several hundred to several thousand. Today, China's censors are blocking Internet access to the terms "six four," "23," "candle," and "never forget," broadening extensive efforts to silence talk about the 23rd anniversary of China's bloody June 4 crackdown. Here is that story, in images and words, Please share it widely.
A Chinese man stands alone to block a line of tanks heading east on Beijing's Cangan Boulevard in Tiananmen Square, on on June 5, 1989. The man, calling for an end to violence and bloodshed against pro-democracy demonstrators, was pulled away by bystanders, and the tanks continued on their way. More on this iconic image and the still-anonymous "tank man" here.
(AP Photo/Jeff Widener)
A student displays a banner with one of the slogans chanted by the crowd of some 200,000 pouring into Tiananmen Square, on April 22, 1989 in Beijing. They were attempting to participate in the funeral ceremony of former Chinese Communist Party leader and liberal reformer Hu Yaobang, during an unauthorized demonstration to mourn his death. His death in April triggered an unprecedented wave of pro-democracy demonstrations.
(Catherine Henriette/AFP/Getty Images)
A student from an art institute plasters the neck of a "Goddess of Democracy", a 10-meter-tall statue erected in Tiananmen Square on May 30, 1989. The statue was unveiled in front of the Great Hall of the People (right) and the monument to the People's Heroes (center) to promote the pro-democracy protest against the Chinese government. From a statement released by the art students who created the statue: "Today, here in the People's Square, the people's Goddess stands tall and announces to the whole world: A consciousness of democracy has awakened among the Chinese people! The new era has begun!"
(Catherine Henriette/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-democracy protesters link arms to hold back angry crowds, preventing them from chasing a retreating group of soldiers near the Great Hall of the People, on June 3, 1989 in Beijing. Protesters were angered by an earlier attack upon students and citizens using tear gas and truncheons. People in the background stand atop buses used as a roadblock.
(AP Photo/Mark Avary)
(1 of 2) Three unidentified men flee as a Chinese man, background left, stands alone to block a line of approaching tanks, in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, on June 5, 1989. The man in the background stood his ground and blocked the column of tanks when they came closer, an image captured on film by numerous other photographers and one that ultimately became a widely reproduced symbol of events there.
(AP Photo/Terril Jones)
Zhang Xianling holds a photo of her late son, Wang Nan, who was killed in the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, during an interview in Beijing, on May 28, 2012. Zhang said her friend Ya Weilin, a father of a man killed in the 1989 crackdown had committed suicide on May 25, 2012, out of despair and to protest the government's long-standing refusal to address the grievances of the victims' relatives.
(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
People take part in a candlelight vigil in Hong Kong on June 4, 2012, held to mark the crackdown on the pro-democracy movement in Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 1989. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, are believed to have died when the government sent in tanks and soldiers to clear Tiananmen Square, bringing a violent end to six weeks of pro-democracy protests.
(Philippe Lopez/AFP/Getty Images)