An endangered tribe killed American adventurer, John Allen Chau, 26, off the coast of India. Chau went to the Andaman islands hoping to convert the Sentinelese tribesman to Christianity. The tribe shot him dead with arrows. The islands are off-limits to visitors due to the endangered status of the tribes. Additionally, they are protected under India law.
The tribe is also known to be hostile to visitors, usually shooting arrows at them. Which makes sense because in the past most of their tribe has been wiped out when foreigners brought diseases to the island. “The Sentinelese have shown again and again that they want to be left alone, and their wishes should be respected,” Survival International, a group advocating for tribal peoples’ rights, said. “The British colonial occupation of the Andaman Islands decimated the tribes living there, wiping out thousands of tribespeople, and only a fraction of the original population now survive. So, the Sentinelese fear of outsiders if very understandable.”
On November 15, 2018, John Chau paid local fishermen to illegally take him to the remote islands. The fishermen would take him as close as possible and he would have to kayak himself onto the island. When John stepped foot on the island he offered fish and footballs to the tribe members but was met with arrows. The Daily Mail has gotten a hold of the letter John Chau wrote following the ordeal. In the letter, he talks about the encounter with the tribesmen. “They had two arrows each, unstrung, until they got closer. I hollered, ‘My name is John, I love you and Jesus loves you’,” he wrote.
John Chau took off and got away with only an arrow hitting his bible. The following day he went back to the island but this time he was shot with arrows. The fishermen witnessed Chau’s death from their boat. After he was shot, the fisherman saw the tribesmen hang a rope around Chau’s neck and drag him deep into the island. Soon the fisherman saw the tribesman reemerge dragging John’s body around. As a result, they notified the authorities.
However, due to the nature of the situation, the body has not been recovered yet. “His body has not yet been retrieved because we have to strategize keeping in mind the nuances and sensitivity of other cultures,” Dependra Pathak, the Andaman Director General of Police said to the News Minute. “His body has not yet been retrieved because we have to strategize keeping in mind the nuances and sensitivity of other cultures.”
Willam Stark, the International Christain Concern regional manager, condemned the killing and asked for justice. “A full investigation must be launched in this murder and those responsible must be brought to justice. India must take steps to counter the growing wave of intolerance and violence,” he said.
Nevertheless, that’s going to be difficult or impossible. John trespassed onto the island and the Sentinelese people are protected. Subir Bhaumik, a journalist for the India times said, “It’s a difficult case for the police. You can’t even arrest the Sentinelese.”
The Indian police arrested the fishermen and charged them with helping John reach the island.
John Chau had always wanted to meet with the Sentinelese tribe and spread the word of Jesus. He told friends it was one of his callings even though he knew how dangerous it was. His family also knew what John was getting into. They posted on his Instagram a letter saying that “He was a beloved son, brother, uncle, and best friend to us”. The family also noted that they forgive the Sentinelese people for his death and the fishermen should be let go and should not be “persecuted for his(John) own actions.”
In a letter addressed to John’s parents written by John, obtained by the Daily Mail, John Chau wrote, “You guys might think I’m crazy in all this but I think it’s worth it to declare Jesus to these people.
“Please do not be angry at them or at God if I get killed.”
Photos: Daily Mail