Authorities in Zambia said they have arrested a Chinese citizen accused of selling exploitative videos of Malawian children. Malawian authorities say they are working to have the man, Lu Ke, returned to Malawi, where rights campaigners say he should face justice.
Immigration officials in Malawi told VOA their counterparts in Zambia arrested Lu Ke on Monday in the eastern Chipata district.
“We got a report from our colleagues that he was found in a lodge in Chipata when he wanted to make some immigration formalities so that so he should be in line with Zambian laws,” said Pasqually Zulu, spokesperson for the Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services in central Malawi.
Last week, Lu Ke fled Malawi, where police were searching for him after a BBC investigation found he was recording young villagers in central Malawi and making them say racist things about themselves in the Chinese language, Mandarin. In one video children, some as young as 9 years old, are heard saying in Mandarin that they are a “black monster” and have a “low IQ.”
The BBC reported he was selling the videos at up to $70 apiece to a Chinese website. The kids performing in the videos were paid about a half dollar each. The news sparked outrage in Malawi. On Tuesday, various rights organizations held street protests and presented a petition to the Chinese Embassy in the capital of Lilongwe.
In the petition, protesters asked the Chinese to compensate the children in the videos for being fooled to say words in a foreign language they could not understand. Comfort Mankhwazi, president of the University of Malawi Child Rights Legal Clinic that led the protests, said she welcomes the arrest.
“This is one of the things we were hoping would happen,” Mankhwazi said. “And we are hoping that his arrest will lead to his prosecution in Malawian courts in which he will be tried for his action against our children, and indeed lead to him having to pay compensation.”
Zulu said the Malawi government is working with Zambian authorities to bring the suspect back to Malawi for criminal proceedings.
“Cooperation is so good with our colleagues in Zambia and our effort this time around is to get hold of him so that he should come to Malawi to answer charges against him,” Zulu said. “So we we are very, very hopeful the steps that we have taken so far will bear fruit.”
There were no official comments from Chinese authorities on the arrest of Lu Ke as of Tuesday. However, Chinese diplomat Wu Peng, who visited Malawi after the incident, said on Twitter last week that China does not tolerate racism.
Peng said China has been cracking down on unlawful online acts in recent years and that it will continue to crack down on such racial discrimination videos.