Thirty years ago, the most important Chinese mass movement of the last half-century began when Beijing students gathered to mourn Hu Yaobang, a reformist official. Soon, massive crowds calling for change were converging on the central plazas of dozens of Chinese cities. On May 20, the government imposed martial law in Beijing, whose Tiananmen Square was the site of the largest rallies. Two weeks later, on June 4, the movement ended after soldiers fired on unarmed civilians on the streets of the capital.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which has ruled the People's Republic of China (PRC) since its founding in 1949, has never allowed an official investigation into the killing. The massacre's death toll remains unknown, but at least several hundred civilians and perhaps ten times that were slain.
Thanks in part to the iconic photo of the "Tank Man" standing up to the armed might of the CCP, June 4 is famous around the world, but discussion of what happened on 6/4 -- known as liusi in Chinese -- remains heavily censored in China and public mourning of the victims is forbidden.