Tourist Killed by Arrows After Trying to Convert Indian Tribe to Christianity
An American tourist killed by an isolated indigenous tribe on India’s North Sentinel Island believed Jesus gave him the strength to visit some of the most forbidden places on the planet.
John Allen Chau, 27, who worked as an EMT, was reportedly shot dead with bows and arrows by members of the Sentinelese tribe, which have never made any contact with the modern world and known to attack outsiders.
Indian officials said that he was illegally ferried by fishermen to North Sentinel Island last week, according to Dependra Pathak, the director general of police in Andaman and Nicobar, an Indian territory.
Notes written by Chau and given to the fishermen to pass on to a friend read that he had taken scissors, safety pins and a football as gifts to the tribe, according to South China Morning Post.
A source, whose name has been withheld, said Chau described some members of the tribe as being good to him while others became aggressive.
Chau set off hoping to convert the endangered tribe to Christianity, writing in his notes that he was “doing this to establish the kingdom of Jesus on the island … Do not blame the natives if I am killed.”
He reportedly made two or three visits to the island using a canoe from Nov. 15. Chau made contact with the tribespeople but returned to his boat and told the fishermen on Nov. 16 he would not come back from the island. He ordered them to go home and give the handwritten notes to his friend.
The following morning, his body was dragged across a beach and buried in the sand, Pathak said, adding: “This was a misplaced adventure in a highly protected area.”
Seven fishermen have been arrested in connection with the death, but the Sentinelese who killed Chau can’t be held accountable as contact with the tribes on the islands is illegal.
International Christian Concern released a statement calling Chau a missionary, condemning his killing, and ignoring that the island is off-limits.
“We here at International Christian Concern are extremely concerned by the reports of an American missionary being murdered in India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands,” William Stark, ICC’s retinal manager, said. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to both John’s family and friends.”
Survival International, an organization that has been pushing for the protection of the indigenous tribes on the Andamans, called Chau’s killing a “tragedy” that should “never been allowed to happen.”
“It’s not impossible that the Sentinelese have just been infected by deadly pathogens to which they have no immunity, with the potential to wipe out the entire tribe,” Stephen Corry, the group’s international director, said, according to the Daily Mail. “The Sentinelese have shown again and again that they want to be left alone, and their wishes should be respected.”