Tiananmen Square Tank Man photographer Charlie Cole dies

The Tiananmen Tank ManImage source, Sipa/Shutterstock
Image caption,
The photographs of the Tiananmen Tank Man became some of the world's most famous

Charlie Cole, one of the photographers who captured the famous Tank Man on film during the Tiananmen Square protests, has died.

The image of one man standing in the way of a column of tanks, a day after hundreds possibly thousands of people died, has become a defining image of the 1989 pro-democracy protests.

He had been living in Bali, Indonesia, where he died last week, aged 64.

Cole was one of four photographers that captured the scene on 5 June 1989.

He took his picture for Newsweek with a telephoto lens from the balcony of a hotel, framing it so the man was only just in the bottom left corner.

Image source, Kim Newton
Image caption,
Charlie Cole (right) pictured in South Korea in 1987

Cole later described how he had expected the man would be killed, and felt it was his responsibility to record what was happening.

But the unidentified protester was eventually pulled away from the scene by two men. What happened to him remains unknown.

A symbol of peaceful resistance

Cole knew he would be searched later by Chinese security so hid the undeveloped film roll in the bathroom.

Shortly after he took it, officials broke through the door and searched the hotel room, but they did not discover the film.

Image source, Kim Newton
Image caption,
Cole, middle, during protests in South Korea in 1987

The scene as shot by him and the other three photographers went on to become an iconic symbol of peaceful resistance across the world.

Thirty years ago, Beijing's Tiananmen Square became the focus for large-scale protests, calling for reform and democracy.

Demonstrators had been camped for weeks in the square, but late on 3 June, the military moved in and troops opened fire.

Media caption,
Tiananmen's tank man: The image that China forgot

China has only ever said that 200 civilians and security personnel died, but there has been no publicly released record of deaths. Witnesses and foreign journalists have said the figure could be up to 3,000.

Tiananmen is still a heavily censored topic in modern China, and the Tank Man pictures are banned.