The Unknown Rebel

The Unknown Rebel

June 5, 1989 - Less than 24 hours after a brutal crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, one man stood defiantly before a column of Chinese tanks. Video and images of the heroic stand became iconic symbols of the fight for freedom and the end of the Cold War.

The incident unfolded as the tanks rolled down a main thoroughfare on the edge of the Forbidden City. The mystery man, who held shopping bags in both hands, stepped nonchalantly in the path of the armored vehicles. The lead tank at first tried to go around him, but the man kept stepping in its path. After a long pause, the man climbed atop the tank and spoke briefly with a crewmember. He then climbed down and stood beside the vehicle as it started to move forward. At that point he once again jumped in its path and stopped the advance. Moments later, two men in blue attire grabbed the man and pulled him into a crowd. He was never seen again.

There are many theories about what happened to him. Most likely he was one of the many people executed by the secret police in the days and weeks following the crackdown. Others believe that he is still alive, living in Taiwan.
 

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