Twenty-five years ago June 4, the Chinese government violently cleared Tiananmen Square of protestors. The protestors, many of whom were students, wanted democracy, freedom of the press, and a more transparent government, among other things.
They were met by the Chinese military who brought tanks and guns. Although there are no recorded numbers on how many protestors were killed that day, the estimate is anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand people, The Atlantic reports.
There is a limited amount of information available about the protest. The pictured figure facing down four Chinese tanks may never be identified, but he has become a symbol of the Tiananmen Square protests and the following massacre.
As the world remembers the events of Tiananmen Square, we have compiled ten more iconic protests within recent history.
The Berlin Wall, a notorious icon of post-WWII Soviet repression, was the scene of several protests. The most prominent of these was a rally in the city of Leipzig, East Germany, on October 9, 1989, according to German broadcast station Deutsche Welle.
While authorities knew of the coming protest, they underestimated the sheer number of people who would turn out, the DW reported. While local authorities expected a crowd of 30,000, the actual number was closer to 70,000.
"The Leipzig protests directly led to the fall of the Berlin Wall," the DW wrote.
"This is a leaderless movement without an official set of demands," The Washington Post wrote of Occupy Wall Street. "There are no projected outcomes, no bottom lines and no talking heads. In the Occupy movement, We are all leaders."
The Occupy movement, which began in 2011 and was seen most prominently in New York City, was a highly publicized protest that developed groups in several U.S. cities. Occupy was meant to raise awareness of economic inequality, particularly the oft-cited statistic that the wealthiest one percent of Americans own 30 to 40 percent of privately held wealth, the Post continued.
Their beliefs, as quoted by the Post, can be summarized as follows: "The one thing we all have in common is that we are the 99 percent that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1 percent.”
Protests of the Vietnam war came in many forms from many countries. This picture depicts the Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thích Quang Duc in the act of self-immolation in order to protest the mistreatment of Buddhists by South Vietnam’s Ngo Dinh Diem administration, according to ThoughtCatalog.
"Reports from that day often reference Thích Quang Duc’s unflinching demeanor, how he never uttered a word or showed traces of pain or suffering, just perfect calm as his body was consumed by flames and he eventually collapsed," ThoughtCatalog wrote.
Many notable anti-war protests took place in the United States demanding that the U.S. remove troops from Vietnam. One such event was the infamous Kent State protest, which led to four students being shot and killed by the National Guard, according to NPR.
On August 28, 1963, over 200,000 Americans of all races marched in Washington, D.C., the History Channel reports.
The march, planned to bring attention to the lack of civil rights and unequal treatment of African Americans, was spearheaded by Martin Luther King Jr., among others. King gave his famous "I have a dream" speech during this march.
The march on Washington "represented an affirmation of hope, of belief in the democratic process, and of faith in the capacity of blacks and whites to work together for racial equality," the History Channel wrote.
The Arab Spring began in 2010 when a frustrated Tunisian fruit vendor set himself on fire to protest economic disparity in his home country, NPR reports.
The movement was picked up by other protestors within the country, all asking President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to step down. A month after the protests began, according to NPR, he fled the country.
What started as one man in Tunisia grew into a movement of thousands across several countries in the Middle East demanding democracy or improved government accountability, and became known as the Arab Spring.
The movement resulted in government change in some countries — such as Tunisia and Egypt — but had little effect in others. On the whole, the Arab Spring saw mixed results, NPR wrote. To summarize the feeling behind the events NPR quoted Raghida Dergham, a columnist and senior diplomatic correspondent for the newspaper Al-Hayat.
"She often feels like she's on a seesaw," NPR wrote of Dergham. "One moment she is exhilarated and proud of what has taken place and other times she'll find herself questioning what has been done."
The Seattle-based 1999 World Trade Organization protests brought a wide range of people together, including "unions worried about competition from cheap foreign labor, environmentalists worried about the outsourcing of polluting activities, consumer protection groups worried about unsafe imports, labor rights groups worried about bad working conditions in other countries, and leftists of various stripes simply venting their anger at capitalism," according to The Atlantic.
Globalization was the focal point of the protests, though. Protestors feared that increased globalization would lead to more pollution — the protestors pictured are wearing paper sea turtle shells, to protest the pollution and degradation of the ocean — increased poverty, heightened economic disparity, etc.
The WTO protestors of 1999 were not taken as seriously as they should have been, The Atlantic continued, as "almost everything the Seattle protesters have warned us about has come to pass."
The tea party was born in the wake of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, better known as the stimulus package, Houstonist reports.
The party may have been founded to oppose the serious economic cost of the stimulus package, but it has gone on to become its own conservative grassroots political branch and has played a role in the GOP for years.
Now a nationally recognized organization, the tea party's official mission statement, as taken from their website, is "to bring awareness to any issue which challenges the security, sovereignty or domestic tranquility of our beloved nation, The United States of America."
The Rodney King riots, also called the Los Angeles riots, took place in 1992 following the acquittal of four LA police officers who were caught on tape beating King, according to NewsOne.
As the police officers were white and King was black, the events were purported to be racially charged. The riots lasted more than six days, NewsOne continued, with thousands taking to the streets in protest and 53 people dying during the course of the protests.
On the third day of rioting, NewsOne wrote, King gave an impromptu address to the rioters in front of his attorney's house, asking them to stop the violence.
“People, I just want to say, you know, can we all get along?” King told his audience, as reported by NewsOne.
After Ukrainian president Yanukovych rejected an accord with the European Union in November 2013, the BBC reports, thousands of people filled Independence Square in Kiev to protest their lack of say in the government.
While the protests began peacefully, developments such as police attacks on protestors and new anti-protest laws put the protests on the path towards violence. Since the protests began, many participants have been injured and several have died, reports the BBC.
As time went on, president Yanukovych was removed from power, the prime minister resigned, and the anti-protest laws were scrapped. However Russia soon became involved, particularly in the Crimea peninsula, and tensions and conflict between Ukraine and Russia are unresolved to this day.
While conflicts between China and Tibet have been ongoing for hundreds of years, it was during the 2008 Olympics that anti-Chinese protesting reached its peak, according to BBC News.
Protests to free Tibet from Chinese rule and perceived Chinese oppression — oppression of government, culture, and religion — have included peaceful support groups across the world as well as more violent measures, including self-immolation and fights between police wielding tear gas and protestors with iron bars, The Guardian reports.
Recently the Dalai Lama stated that talks with China were fruitless and it might necessitate taking a harder stance with Beijing, the BBC reported.