In April 1989 protestors began gathering in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, demanding China's Communist government begin democratic reforms.

Demonstrators occupied the square in the centre of Beijing for several weeks - at the height of the protests about a million people gathered there - until the Chinese government ordered the violent crackdown which led to the massacre on 4 June.

The Chinese government has suppressed the release of any information about the event, so the death toll varies wildly from the official government figure of about 300 to Amnesty International's estimate of around 1,000.

After efforts to move the protesters along peacefully failed, the military intervened.

On the evening of 3 June, armoured personnel vehicles (APCs) sealed off the square, surrounding the students. Then soldiers from China's People's Liberation Army advanced on Tiananmen Square and opened fire on the protesters, using live ammunition and bullets which expanded on impact, causing devestating wounds on their victims.

Troops reportedly fired at random, killing and wounding people living in apartment blocks around the square.

Any resistance was put down with lethal force, effectively ending the protests.

The morning after the massacre, as tanks rolled through Beijing, cameras captured the image which has come to define this incident: a lone man carrying a shopping bag in each hand, standing in the path of a column of tanks.

Today the unnamed protester is known as 'Tank Man'. He is seen as a symbol of peaceful protest and defiance against violence and force.

tank man
5 June 1989: \'Tank Man\' stands in front of a column of tanks in the Avenue of Eternal Peace, the day after the Tiananmen Square uprising was crushed Reuters