The Unknown Hero In Us All: Tank Man - Forgotten Freedom Fighters

in history •  2 years ago  (edited)

This series has covered a variety of individuals who have meant something to the freedom movement. I have sought to bring back into the light people who time and the government want to forget. Tank man is another sort of freedom fighter. He was forgotten almost before he appeared. The fact is that, he may be more important than anyone I have covered yet.

April 15th 1989, an influential former Communist Party member named Hu Yaobang died. He was a voice for democratic reform within the party. Three days later, thousands of young Chinese students marched to Tiananmen Square, which is located in the center of the Chinese capital, Beijing. These students were mourning the passing of Hu, and calling for more reform in his honor.

More than a hundred students staged a hunger strike in the square on May 13th to further bring attention to the Chinese people’s want and need of a freer society. Within days, the number of people participating in the strike rose into the thousands. Revolution was brewing in the hearts of the Chinese youth. By the 19th, it is estimated that the demonstration drew 1.2 million people.

This activism wasn’t something that was just going to go away. The government was being directly challenged. Zhao Ziyang, General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, was forced to appear at the protest and begged them to end the demonstrations and go home. The premier of China, Li Peng, imposed martial law as a result of these young people refusing to submit to the will of the government.

As might be expected, the western media covered the story as a turning point in Chinese history. This coverage was garnering support, globally, for the students and threatening the authoritarian government. Those in power feared that this uprising would spread. On June 1st, Chinese officials stopped all American coverage of the events taking place. Even photographs were prohibited. Beyond limiting the coverage of the protest, they also forbid the filming of Chinese troops.

The following day, a concert with over 100,000 people in attendance was held in support of the demonstrations by singer, Hou Dejian. The will of the people was clear. They wanted freedom and were not backing down.

On June 4th at 1am in the morning, the Chinese military entered Tiananmen Square. Chinese troops opened fire on their own people, who were mostly students. The Chinese government has never released the death toll. The estimates range from several hundred to thousands.

Under siege, the demonstrations came to an abrupt end. The might of the Chinese military had rolled over peaceful protesters, and killed children in the name of the state. It was apparent that the government was all powerful and in command… until the next day.


As the tanks continued to advance on the square, an unknown man, in a iconic feat of bravery, took a stand. A column of tanks pushed forward towards the former protest sight, yet, one man stood in their way. This one unidentified man bravely said, “No!” He, with shopping bags in hand, stepped in front of the first tank and dared it to continue. When the force of the Chinese army and it’s tyrannical government were pushing forward, all it took to halt them in their tracks was one man. The tank stopped. The man appeared to talk to the commander of the tank, then the man climbed up onto the tank and sat for a few moments. After he slid down to the side of the tank, the tank began to move again. The man again ran in front and stood. Several moments passed. A few people rushed in to push the man away. It remains uncertain exactly who they were.

No one really knows who the brave resistor actually was. Some people have identified him as a 19 year old student named Wang Weilin, based on his disappearance after the protests. Weilin’s friends feared that he had been put to death. General Secretary Jiang Zemin said that he did not know the mans name and was unaware of him being arrested.


There was another report that the man was an archaeologist who joined the demonstrations. The report goes on to say that he had escaped to Taiwan and worked for the National Palace Museum. Officials deny this report.

A special assistant to former President Nixon, Bruce Herschensohn, has reported that the man was executed 14 days after the event. Who knows where Herschensohn’s information came from. Perhaps, no one knows of “tank man's" identity or fate.

Who this man is does not matter. What does matter is what he proved. The estimates say that over 10,000 people were arrested, on top of the thousands killed, in Tiananmen Square. Dozens of people were executed because of their participation in the demonstrations. One man stopped all of that for a moment.

The meaning of Tiananmen is “gate to peace.” This is a perfect descriptor for who Tank Man is. He is the strength of one man to stand in the face of death and announce to the world that the destructive power of government will not be unopposed. All over the world, we saw as this one man stood down the Chinese oppression.

He also was not alone. Two people must be recognized as aiding Tank Man. The first is the driver of the tank. He did not just run him over. In choosing to respect Tank Man's life he acknowledged his rights over the government’s proclamations. The driver made that choice twice, faced again with choosing life or his orders. As we end the violence that is government, we will need soldiers to disobey their orders. It is important that those who are in our military choose life over the death they are ordered to inflict. We see this choice being reflected in the decline in re-enlistments. Americans are choosing not to fight in foreign lands for empire. Those who return are sharing their experiences and are becoming activists. People, like Adam Kokesh, are not only realizing the racket that is government and war, but they are spreading this truth to the world.

The second person who aided Tank Man is the photographer, who not only captured the film in defiance of the Chinese order to censor, but hid the film until he could retrieve it and released it to the world. We need him now, too! Our media is nothing more than a propaganda arm for our government. Brave men and women must defy their orders and tell the true stories.

Ultimately, Tank Man will never be forgotten. It is appropriate that we do not know his name. He is everyone. He is you and he is me. He is anyone who fights for what is right. Tank Man is the activist in the common man, just doing his shopping, seeing injustice, and taking action. We don't need more Tank Men, we already have them, they are us.

Written by @marcus.pulis (Press Secretary)



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I had no idea this happened until I read this. I am still amazed by the bravery of some humans. Governments should be held accountable for crimes against humanity like this. It is unfathomable to me that there is still so much indifference for taking human life, especially when those lives are peacefully protesting. Violence should never be used on the non-violent. It is unnecessary in every way. It is also appalling that they executed a lot of the protesters that were arrested, as if a long prison sentence wouldn't have been too much punishment as it is. Thank you for bringing this to my attention @adamkokesh. Blessings

History is being hidden from us. That is why we are doing this series. Government again and again commits these attrocities and then conveniently forgets about them or says that was a bad State, we are a good State. Force and coerian is the tool of all governments.

People say that history is tales of the victors. What they should say is history is bullshit. Only unfiltered stories like these give an accurate albeit incomplete account of REAL history. Thanks for bringing some truth to the table.

I'm not sure when or how i acquired it, but this photo was the first poster I ever put up on the walls of my teenage bedroom. It always represented the will of the individual and its' eternal potency in the face of all other forces, at least to me. Great post. Thanks for the reminder.

Beautiful post @adamkokesh and @marcus.pilus!

I remember walking alongside that street last year in Beijing. I'd like to share a few more thoughts about this, having lived in China for nearly 4 years now:

  • My girlfriend, who is the most open and well-read person I've met here (she came to Anarchapulco!) said that she hadn't heard about the incident until after she left school and university. She estimates that less than 10% of Chinese have any idea about what happened then. And it's DEFINITELY not discussed in school.

  • She had never seen the picture of Tank Man until I showed it to her this morning.

  • The Chinese mafia rotated out the normal Beijing troops and brought in troops from the countryside. Though untrue, the countryside troops saw the Beijing people as "separate" or "other" than them. Once we realize we're all brothers and sisters and that the controlling class enjoys putting in artificial divisions, we'll have a better chance of truly being free.

  • Before the troops cleared the square (many were still divided about the orders, not wanting to plow over their brothers and sisters), 100 soldiers "went missing." Officers told the soldiers that they had been captured by the protestors and brutally murdered. As the rumor spread through the troops, fiery anger at the protestors emerged. After they murdered and cleared their way through the square, the 100 soldiers emerged unharmed and had no idea about the rumors. They were posted to guard another area. Oops. A clever and deceitful way for the military officers to urge on their dogs to kill.

I completely 100% agree with you that the soldiers will need to DISOBEY immoral orders in order for us to be free. We need to reach out to them with love and care, and explain that their actions are 100% immoral, but the ultimate act of courage is DISOBEYING their orders and exercising TRUE CONSCIENCE.

Screen Shot 2018-04-17 at 2.00.13 AM.png

I again recommend Mark Passio's presentation, "The Cult of Ultimate Evil: Order Followers and the Destruction of the Sacred Feminine" for more on this.

One of the most iconic photos there is in the fight against oppression. Tianemen is such an iconic place in China and the length the government goes to, to keep it well preserved and propped up is a little startling. The monstrous parliament buildings is a stark realization of the power of communism.
I’ve visited tianamen a few times and still a pretty amazing sight

I am sure it is a beautiful place, it is awful that government stained it with so much blood.

I've been enjoying this series, a lot. But this story touched me in a very different & profound way. Thank you for telling the story of this unknown soldier of peace. I now feel very connected to this unknown man & am empowered by his tale.

Does any one else on Steemit remember this little situation going down differently?

Back when I was in the military I watched this clip a few times. I remember feeling very bad for everyone involved. I felt bad for the man holding the groceries, and I felt bad for the guy driving the tank who after trying to avoid the man, stopped for a few seconds then ran him down. I can only presume that he was ordered to do it, and feared his family would come to harm if he refused. I never saw tank man jumping on the tank, and I never saw people come drag the guy away.

I can't explain why myself and every person I've asked IRL that recall watching that man being ran over by those tanks. Maybe it was some sort of psyop that the mockingbird media pulled on us. I don't know, but either way it's very strange. Just wanted to see if anyone else here recalls it going down that way.

@adamkokesh This was a well done post, keep up the good fight.

Look up the mandella effect

Who will be the one to stand in front of the invisible tanks of American oppression?

There are many of us and we are growing!

I agree with @marcus.pulis

Ultimately, Tank Man will never be forgotten. It is fitting that we do not know his name. He's everyone. He is you and he is me. He is who strives for what is right. Tank Man is an activist in ordinary people, just doing shopping, seeing injustice, and taking action. We no longer need Tank Men, we already have them, they are us.

I really remember this tragedy and greatly appreciate this teenage hero for partispation stop the execution victim even if only 5 minutes. shows to us that enough 1 brave man person, rather than the thousands of people with guts of fear who only watch the oppression.
Thanks for this @adamkokesh

Yes, I remember that, and never will be forgotten.

Oh yeah! Your words are full of wisdom, I can't have enough of it

This is true bravery to stop the tyranny in China. Freedom comes to those who believes and those who makes a move.

Tank man will never be forgotten I have seen the photo before but didn't know the story behind it. Thanks for educating us on this

It's a good call man. I love the way you go about your business

Oh yeah! Your words are full of wisdom. I just can't have enough of it

Why is the independent asking what happened to Tank Man if they know who took the photo? Why not just ask Jeff Widenour and what about the Discovery Channel's spanish language version of their Tiananmen documentary which shows him being pulled away by a Chinese guy in plainclothes and NOT run over? Will you disclose it? @adamkokest

He was executed

Bruce Herschensohn, a former deputy special assistant to former US President Richard Nixon, told the President Club in 1999 that Tank Man was executed 14 days later.

Humans and tanks can be said they are compounds in defending and preserving the truth.I really like this post. very strong strong.every body love freedom .
This history very meaning full for me and for all people around the world to know about history
Thank's @adamkokest


Great article thanks for taking us back in the memory lane!!

I start to hate chinesse government. They killed there own for what? Greed of one man and his millitary are all puppets. Fuck those kind of people.

history that can not be forgotten, this is a true warrior to a million mankind



Remove Donald trum, select @adamkokesh for future president that will bring peace and freedom
my support for you, my president @adamkokesh


any uprising in china will never be successful.the military is always there to obey the orders of their higher ups without any question.unless the military gets involve,then it will be a different story.

I disagree, one man stopped a tank. Imagine what a million or a billion could do. The people will prevail.

The military is made up of individuals. At that time, according to sources, some units of the Chinese military REFUSED to obey their orders. their commander was court martialled and demoted, but they did the RIGHT THING

  ·  2 years ago Reveal Comment

Who this man is does not matter. What does matter is what he proved. The estimates say that over 10,000 people were arrested, on top of the thousands killed, in Tiananmen Square. Dozens of people were executed because of their participation in the demonstrations. One man stopped all of that for a moment.

Which yesterday, only in memory. For tomorrow, only you are capable with hope. Now, this is the truth. Where you have to accept it, with consciousness. Who now does not want to open his eyes, tomorrow will remain blind.

We will all be very humbled if you would choose to be our tank man.

it's time to replace the president. I support you to be president

Ok... So ive listened to a number of your videos so i decided to give my 2 cents here.
Its great what you do... Most of it. :)
Some things i cant agree with you on. My disagreement being on your necessity to go completely to the opposite side ("against the man") in terms of anything government related. (your closing argument on the Brexit couple video, as an example)
Its like youve driven on that road for so long you got to a line, that if you crossed you would be in extremist territory, so you just stop there and start smudging that line with your foot, walking along it, slightly rocking from one side to the other.
Anyways.. my point being is that people cannot govern themselves. You need representation and governance.. Not on everything like we have now, not in the abusive way government acts now... Because this system has become so bloated and unjust we need to improve upon the system and reduce the power of government, "reduce"... not abolish all together.

There are three very simple facts...

  1. People are stupid. Some people are stupid about everything but most people are stupid about some things
  2. Your bartender shouldn't be making decisions about Stem cell research.
  3. Individuals are very conflict prone

When you put all that together it comes to light that you can follow the evolution of the governing body from those 3 things. Representation and some kind of centralized decision making needs to exist. There was a need to fulfill, a very real one which is why "government" came to existence in the first place.
The problem today is that it exists in every facet of our society, but the solution isnt "de-evolving" society, its rather determining the specific facets, isolating them and making adjustments towards Freedom of choice where it can exist.

If most people are stupid about some things, it is extremely dangerous to give anyone the "right" to initiate violence against others, which is what government is.

I can represent myself; I believe you can too. And just about everyone else can too if they know what is right and what is wrong. Right and wrong are simple. Anything is right if it DOES NOT result in harm to other sentient beings. An action is WRONG if it DOES result in harm to other sentient beings.

And you think you can base a society on an individuals knowledge of right and wrong?
Societal decisions are much more complex then deciding black from white.

If you think you can represent yourself then good luck with that.
Truth is you cannot. You are stupid about some things you have an opinion about. Even if its a strong opinion. Same goes for everyone else in this world. That is why you need some kind of leadership on subjects you either do not understand or that are important but you cant find to deal with. That is why you need representation.

What Adam is trying to sell is idealistic foolishness. Why people need to go into the extreme is beyond me. Moderation is the key.

Yes, you can base a society on an individual's knowledge of right and wrong. Because right and wrong is simple, it is black and white. All decisions are easy to make once you understand that violence-wrong, no violence used-right.

  ·  2 years ago Reveal Comment

Yep very true a lot of freedom fighters are forgotten

Buen post...bonita historia de libertad. Gracias por tu trabajo es muy bueno y sincero


  ·  2 years ago Reveal Comment