China: No sign of life from arrested photographer for three weeks
Human rights activists demand release of award-winning photographer Lu Guang (Press Release)
The Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) demands the immediate release of Lu Guang, a well-known photographer who was abducted by Chinese police in the Xinjiang region on November 3, 2018, while he was on a lecture tour in northwestern China. There has been no sign of life from him since then. Previously, he had visited the predominantly Uyghur-inhabited city of Kashgar. In the vicinity of the city, there are a several reeducation camps in which Uyghurs and Kazakhs are locked up against their will. Lu Guang is considered one of China's most famous photographers, but he and his wife live in New York. He has won numerous awards for his social and environmental commitment, including three World Press Photo Awards and the Henri Nannen Prize.
"We are deeply concerned about Lu Guang," said Ulrich Delius, the STP's director, in Göttingen on Wednesday – emphasizing that, in times where tens of thousands of Uyghurs and Kazakhs are arbitrarily detained and locked up in camps, his sudden disappearance has to be taken very seriously. Thus, the incident must be clarified immediately.
"Lu Guang can be seen as China's photographic conscience," Delius stated. He meticulously documented the high price the people of China and nature are paying for the uncompromising promotion of industrial growth. He got used to the fact that his pictures were often censored because China's rulers felt offended. Also, he often received threats due to his work.
The STP not only fears that the arrest of the photographer is related to the dramatic deterioration of the human rights situation in Xinjiang, but that it will also have consequences regarding media coverage in general. For journalists, it is becoming increasingly difficult to do research and take pictures in Xinjiang. Each arrest highlights the high personal risk critical journalists are taking in order to provide independent information on the human rights abuses and grievances in China.
Header image: Bruno Vanbesien via Flickr