‘Tank Man’ Photographer Charlie Cole Has Died | Culture


American photographer Charli Cole has died, aged 64, in his home in Bali, Indonesia. He was one of the photographers who captured the iconic Tank Man protester at Tiananmen Square, during the 1989 pro-democracy protests in Beijing, China.


Although three other photographers took a picture of the man, Cole’s photo is the most powerful one, since he managed to convey the tension of the moment by capturing the man in the bottom left corner of the photo, showing, this way, the long line of tanks.


As Cole has later unveiled, he had expected that the “tank man” would be killed, but two protesters pulled him to the side of the road. What happened to him remains unknown today. After taking the photo from a hotel balcony on June 5, 1989, Cole hid the material in his bathroom, as he understood that it would be considered dangerous by Chinese authorities. Shortly after, officials actually broke into his room, but they did not discover the film.


Even today, what really happened during the pro-democracy protests is a mystery. Chinese authorities reported the death of 200 civilians and security personnel, but witnesses and foreign journalists have said the number could be up to 3,000.


For this photo, Cole won the 1990 World Press Photo award. The picture is still today an international symbol of peaceful resistance and represents an invitation not to forget what happened in Tiananmen Square.




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