Two citizen journalists keeping track of protests in China have been detained for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.”

Lu Yuyu and his girlfriend Li Tingyu run “Not News,” which has been reporting and distributing news of mass demonstrations in China via Twitter, Blogspot, YouTube and Weibo since 2013. They collect photos and videos of grassroots demonstrations from social media and track statistics on protests and demonstrations, documenting almost 30,000 incidents last year.

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Lu Yuyu and Li Tingyu Photo: VOA.

Lu and Li have been missing since June 15. There has been no new post on their frequently updated Twitter account since June 14, drawing concerns from friends and followers who noticed the lack of messages.

NGO China Human Rights Defenders confirmed on Monday that they are being criminally detained in Dali Prefecture’s detention centre for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.” The charge – one of a series of related offences referred to as “disturbing public order” – is often used to silence critics of the Communist Party.

An exiled dissident told US-backed Radio Free Asia that Lu’s detention could be linked to recent events in Wukan, where continuous days of protests ensued last week after the village’s “democratically-elected” leader was detained on charges of corruption. Chinese authorities have reportedly censored media reports on the demonstrations.

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“Lu Yuyu – missing for 8 days, as of June 23.” Photo: Twitter.

“The Wukan incident is continuing to heat up. The Chinese authorities may be worried that they would continue to report on the Wukan incident, so they were ‘disappeared.’”

Another friend told RFA it was possible that Lu had travelled to Wukan to cover the protests and was detained on arrival.

The couple have been forced to move homes in the past due to intimidation from police, according to Amnesty International.

Catherine is a Canadian journalist and photographer who lived in Beijing for almost two years, working in TV and online media. Aside from Hong Kong and mainland affairs, she is also interested in urban spaces, art and feminism. She holds a BA in Literature and Art History from the University of British Columbia.