The photographer who snapped the defining image of China’s Tiananmen Square crackdown — a solitary man defiantly blocking the path of a column of tanks — has died in Indonesia, according to US officials.
American authorities confirmed the death of 64-year-old Charlie Cole in Bali, where the Texan had been a long-time resident.
“We offer our sincerest condolences to the family on their loss,” a state department official told AFP.
Cole won the 1990 World Press Photo award for his picture of a man in a white shirt, carrying a shopping bag in each hand, striding out into the road the day after troops killed hundreds of pro-democracy protesters in the heart of Beijing.
The man, whose identity remains unknown, stopped in front of a column of tanks and armoured vehicles stretching far down the road, later climbing onto the vehicle to engage in a conversation with one of the tank crew as gunshots crackled in the air.
“Tank Man” has become one of the defining images of the 20th century, but the image remains largely unrecognised in China due to censorship of the image and the wider crackdown.
His mystique has been reinforced by his subsequent disappearance, probably at the hands of Chinese security forces.
Several photographers captured Tank Man’s lone figure on film that day. A picture of the scene by Jeff Widener of the Associated Press, snapped from the balcony of the Beijing Hotel, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.
Hong Kong Free Press relies on direct reader support. Help safeguard independent journalism and press freedom as we invest more in freelancers, overtime, safety gear & insurance during this summer’s protests. 10 ways to support us.