Although the government declared martial law on May 20, the government failed to enforce it and the demonstrations continued. The hunger strike was approaching the end of the third week, and the government resolved to end the matter before deaths occurred. After deliberation among Communist party leaders, the use of military force to resolve the crisis was ordered, and Zhao Ziyang was ousted from political leadership as a result of his support for the student demonstrators. The Communist Party then decided to stop the situation before it escalated further.
Soldiers and tanks from the 27th and 28th Armies of the People's Liberation Army were sent to take control of the city. Although the government ordered all civilians in Beijing to remain indoors by numerous television and loudspeaker broadcasts, these warnings were not always heeded, and many peaceful protesters and innocent bystanders were attacked by the PLA soldiers; the ensuing violence resulted in huge numbers of civilian casualties and some army deaths.
The Chinese government acknowledged that a few hundred people died.
Entry of the troops into the city was actively opposed by many citizens of Beijing, whose resistance resulted in military casualties. Extensive roadblocks constructed by the citizens of Beijing slowed progress, but the Square was cleared of demonstrators during the night of June 4. The battle continued on the streets surrounding the Square, with protesters repeatedly advancing toward the heavily armed troops of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), who responded with automatic weapons fire. Many injured citizens were saved by rickshaw drivers who ventured into the no-man's-land between the soldiers and crowds and carried the wounded off to hospitals.
The suppression of the protest was symbolised in Western media by the famous footage and photographs of a lone protester, taken on June 5, standing in front of a...