Lu Guang’s photos have exposed the sides of China that its government isn’t keen on talking about: drug addicts, HIV patients, environmental problems, and so on. This time, however, the award-winning photographer has himself become the center of a story. His wife Xu Xiaoli claims she hasn’t heard from her husband since the 3rd of November.
According to the BBC, Xinjiang has become notorious for its tight security controls, heavy surveillance and police presence, tackling what they describe as growing radicalism among the ethnic Uighur Muslim community. The government is sensitive to criticism and has detained reporters who were investigating negative stories about China in the past.
“The reality in China is you never know if you’re going to get into trouble because there are no written rules,” the photographer said in an interview last year.
The photographer won at the 2004 World Press Photo competition for his exposure of “AIDS villages”, where people 678 people got infected with HIV after selling their blood. Out of 3,000 people, 678 have contracted HIV and 200 have died.
Cédric Alviani, the director of Reporters Without Borders’ East Asia bureau, called on China to disclose where Lu is and to “guarantee journalists’ freedom of movement and security, including in Xinjiang Province.” It has not answered yet.