One of the world’s great mysteries

This is an excellent article on the mysterious “Tiananmen tank man” and the efforts to indentify and find him. It includes some intriguing comments from Jeff Widener, the photographer who captured on film the man’s standoff in front of a row of tanks on June 5, 1989. If this topic interests you, you’ll want to read it.

The Discussion: 3 Comments

Yes, nice article. But Sharon Hom’s comments are sloppy and demonstrate an extraordinary lack of discipline from a person who knows more than most that it’s facts that count. Look at the following (the first sentence makes a good point, but it’s downhill from there on):

“Both the man in front of the tank and the soldier inside are worthy of our attention,” she said. “Inside, you had a soldier who was obviously not following orders for not running the man down, someone who was probably later harshly disciplined.

How does Hom know the tank driver was “obviously” not following orders? What’s the point of saying he was “probably” harshly disciplined later?

The first is not obvious at all, unless she had a bug in PLA HQ on the day in question. And as for the second, well … saying he “probably” wasn’t harshly disciplined has about as much credence as saying he was harshly disciplined.

Both comments might be true, but it doesn’t do your cause much good to be throwing them around without any evidence whatsoever. And if you don’t know, then how does that make you any different from the authorities you criticise for fabricating stories?

I don’t think she should be allowed to get away with this, no matter how much we like to believe what she says is true.

June 5, 2004 @ 12:04 am | Comment

I can’t recall where I read it but I believe that there was an order from the Politburo that there was to be no army violence within the square (foreign press etc plus “sanctity” of the Square considerations) thus the majority, if not all, of the deaths happening in side streets. If this was true then the Tank Driver was following orders.

Plenty try to claim this man. Some have said he was an Uygur student from Xinjiang. Someone must know.

June 5, 2004 @ 12:22 am | Comment

To the anonymous commenter, read Pico Iyer’s piece in Time magazine — he comes to similar conclusions as Hom about the tank driver not following orders. As do several other reporters. They may be wrong, and your point about her saying he was “probably disciplined” is a good one.

June 5, 2004 @ 9:41 am | Comment

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