- A popular Tibetan vlogger died after being set on fire by her ex-husband while she was livestreaming. He was just sentenced to death.
- Her grisly murder shocked China, prompting nationwide outrage against domestic abuse.
- China has long battled issues of domestic violence, with one in four women said to have suffered physical abuse.
A man in China was given the death penalty for murdering his ex-wife by setting her on fire as she was live-streaming, a brutal case that horrified the country and fuelled nationwide outrage over domestic violence against women.
On Thursday, Tang Lu, the defendant, was found guilty of intentional homicide by the intermediate people’s court in the Aba region of Sichuan province, reported state media CCTV News.
His crime was “extremely cruel,” and the “social impact was extremely bad,” said the court, per CCTV.
Tang’s ex-wife, Amachu, who was 30, was an ethnic minority Tibetan vlogger who went by the name “Lamu” and had more than 770,000 followers on Douyin – China’s version of TikTok. She regularly posted cheerful videos of her rural life in the mountains, featuring her lipsyncing, cooking, foraging, or spending time with her family.
Lamu would sometimes wear traditional Tibetan clothing in her videos, and followers often praised her for not wearing makeup.
Her Douyin account description says: “It’s not that I don’t like city life, but I want to be by my father’s side, so I need to rely on the mountains to earn an income. I want to share the treasures of the mountains with more people!”
The mother of two married Tang in 2009, but the couple often quarreled, and Tang beat her many times, the court heard, according to CCTV.
Lamu divorced Tang in June 2020, and he later sought to remarry her but was rejected. At around 10:30 p.m. on September 14, 2020, Tang went to Lamu’s father’s house, where Lamu was streaming to a live audience, and dumped gasoline on her and set her alight, according to court hearings per CCTV.
She suffered burns on 90% of her body and died two weeks later after the attack. Tang fled the scene, and was arrested that night by local police, reported Chinese media Sina News.
Meanwhile, Lamu’s father’s house burned down in the assault, and the elderly man has been living in an old nursing home near a government facility since, per Sina.
Lamu’s death sparked outrage across China
Lamu’s case has bolstered a renewed fury in China toward domestic violence against women. Supporters flooded her Douyin page with tens of thousands of comments grieving her death, and millions of people on the social media site Weibo called for justice using the hashtags “Lamu” and “Lamu died after being set on fire by her ex-husband,” per the Hong Kong Free Press. Many of the posts were later censored, reported HKFP.
Reports after Lamu’s death revealed she and her family endured a brutish history of violence from Tang.
According to the Chongqing Morning Post, their divorce in June 2020 was actually their second split – Lamu had reportedly divorced Tang earlier in May 2020 but went back to him after he threatened to kill one of their children, who was in his custody.
She ran away from Tang soon after and hid with the help of relatives. According to the Post, Tang confronted Lamu’s sister and beat her when she refused to tell him where Lamu was.
Her family told the Post they reported the incident to the police, but the authorities did nothing. When Lamu divorced Tang the second time in June 2020, she gained custody of both their children.
Around one in four women in China suffer from domestic abuse, per state media CGTN.
Authorities and police long considered domestic violence a personal family matter that should be dealt with privately, and China only criminalized it in 2016.
Other high-profile abuse cases have prompted outrage in China. In July, a man accused of assaulting his ex-girlfriend was released by police after writing a guarantee that he wouldn’t do it again. He had been videoed grabbing her and pushing her into his car while she screamed.
Afterward, the hashtag “guarantee” trended with 740 million mentions on Weibo, reported The South China Morning Post.
In the meantime, Lamu’s older sister Zhuoma has taken over the vlogger’s Douyin account, posting updates on her family’s situation and tearful farewell messages to her sister.
In her latest video, posted last week, Zhuoma seemingly writes to Lamu: “I’m sorry, a year has passed, and I still can’t give you an explanation. The most I’ve been able to do is protect those you cared about and loved.”
“In the next life, I’ll be your older brother, and protect you well. Rest in peace, little sister.”