Lu Guang, an acclaimed photojournalist based in New York, went on a trip to Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang province, on October 23rd, where he expected to meet with local photographers. His wife lost contact with him from the evening of November 3rd. She learned a few days later that her husband had been taken in custody by the local security forces, although no official confirmation has been given.
Lu, a Chinese national, is an award-winning freelance photographer specializing in social, environmental and public health issues. His portraits of “Aids villages” in China’s central Henan Province earned him his first World Press Photo award in 2004, which he also won in 2011 and 2015. As a US permanent resident, he travels frequently to China for photography projects.
“We call on the Chinese authorities to disclose the whereabouts of Lu Guang”, said Cédric Alviani, director of the East Asia Bureau of Reporters Without Borders (RSF). “It is the Chinese government’s responsibility to guarantee journalists’ freedom of movement and security, including in Xinjiang Province.”
Up to a million Muslims, mostly of Uyghur ethnicity, are reportedly being detained in re-education camps in Xinjiang without trial, including many journalists and their families. Prominent journalist Ilham Tohti, recipient of the Sakharov Prize and founder of Uyghur Online, was condemned to life imprisonment in 2014.
China is one of the world’s worst jailer of journalists, with more than 60 professional and non-professional journalists behind bars. The country ranks 176 out of 180 in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index published by RSF.