Tibetan activist and exile Jamphel Yeshi, 27, lies on the ground burning
Tibetan activist and exile Jamphel Yeshi, 27, lies on the ground as fellow protesters attempt to douse the flames. Yeshi set himself on fire to protest the visit of China president Hu Jintao, who is meeting in India this week with the BRICS nations. Reuters

Self-immolations in China are often under-reported or in some cases completely ignored. While several cases have been documented earlier this year, one case has gotten special coverage from Chinese state media.

According to state run Xinhua News Agency, a Tibetan man has been sentenced to death by a court in southwest China’s Sichuan Province after it was discovered that he had killed his wife and burned her body, making it look like she had set herself alight in protest. The man, 32- year old Drolma Gya, was convicted of homicide by the Intermediate People’s Court in the Tibetan-Qiang region, and was given the death penalty.

The court reports said that in early March Gya choked his 28-year old wife, Kunchok Wangmo, to death using a scarf in their home. The two reportedly got into a heated argument over Gya’s drinking habits before things escalated into violence. The court said that Gya had previously promised his wife that he would stop drinking altogether but was caught by Wangmo that night.

Wangmo reportedly was pretending to strangle herself with the scarf, which she presumably put around her neck herself. As the argument escalated Gya grabbed the scarf that was wrapped around her neck and reportedly told her “if you have suffered this much, I will help you end it” and strangled her to death. Gya then took his wife’s body outside their home, dousing it with gasoline and setting it on fire in the early hours the following day. Gya’s court confession revealed that he had burned his wife’s body and say it was the result of a self-immolation to cover up his own crime and also to save face for himself and for the daughter they had together. “What I did was completely wrong,” Drolma Gya’s lawyer, Su Haijun, relayed before the trial began. “I burned her body for people would know that I killed her.”

Earlier this year, Lorang Konchok, a 40-year old Tibetan monk at the Kirti Monastery, was sentenced to death for what the state called “provoking” eight people to set themselves on fire over the span of several years. Of the eight people who were reportedly convinced to self-immolate by Konchok, three died.