Tiananmen Square, Then and Now

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.

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • Gustavo Minas

    Brasilia's 1,000,000 Person Orchestra

    Photographs transform a bus stop into a symphony of commuters, buses, shadows, glass, and concrete

  • Marc Monaghan

    Americans at Work: Elementary and High-School Educators in Chicago

    Welcome to a new series of photo essays at the Atlantic titled Americans at Work. Our inaugural story about educators in Chicago comes from Chicago-based documentary photographer Marc Monaghan.

  • Raphael Dias / Getty for the International Paralympic Committee

    Hopeful Images From 2016

    After another year of news stories that produced photos that can often be difficult or disturbing to view, I thought I’d take the time to compose an essay of uplifting images from the past year.

  • Adam Rhew / Charlotte Magazine / Reuters

    2016: The Year in Photos, September–December

    Time to take a look back at some of the most memorable events and images of 2016. Among the events covered in this essay: the U.S. presidential election; continued wars in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen; a new view of the planet Jupiter; and much more.

Join the Discussion