June 1, 2016

Initiatives for China is pleased to announce that along with the Newseum and world-renowned photographer Charlie Cole, it has nominated the Tank Man images and video footage captured by international journalists during the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests in Beijing as documentary heritage for inscription into UNESCO Memory of the World (MoW) Register. The nomination submitted on the eve of the 27th anniversary of the early-morning June 4 massacre serves as an appropriate commemoration of the hundreds, even thousands of victims.

The nomination includes the selected images and video footage from five photojournalists and two cameramen who risked their lives to record the heroic act of the “Tank Man”, a still-unidentified young Chinese man, who single-handedly blocked the path of a column of People’s Liberation Army’s tanks that were rolling down Chang’an Avenue near Tiananmen Square on June 5, 1989.

Since its publication, the image of the Tank Man has been widely considered to be one of the most iconic images of the 20th
century; a photo that changed the world, becoming a symbol of courage, and a symbol of the fight against oppression.

We strongly believe that this nomination is in keeping with UNESCO and United Nations values and will allow us to fight the collective amnesia imposed through censorship and deliberate destruction of relevant information by the Chinese Communist regime. It will ensure this documentary heritage is well preserved, that the memory is safeguarded, that its historic value is fully recognized, that access to the photos and footage is provided to all, and that ultimately the truth be found.

We call on the UNESCO MoW International Advisory Council and the Director-General to make a positive determination to inscribe the Tank Man’s images and video footage into the MoW Register in accordance with the rules of the program and the values of the organization.