US ‘missionary’ crying Jesus killed by isolated tribe
Armed with gifts and waving a Bible, his cries of 'Jesus loves you' were met by a hail of arrows
A tourist screaming “Jesus loves you” has been killed by a tribe untouched by modern civilisation after he illegally ventured on to their remote island home.
The American, who perished in a hail of arrows that also pierced his Bible, was reportedly bent on converting the tribespeople to Christianity on the remote North Sentinel Island in the Indian Ocean.
It was “worthwhile to declare Jesus to these people”, John Allen Chau had reportedly declared on Instagram.
The 27-year-old had loaded his kayak with gifts of fish and a football, and with a cry of “My name is John. I love you and Jesus loves you ... Here is some fish!”, he paddled to his bloody fate, according to a journal quoted in different media.
His first approach to the island, accompanied by fishermen in their boat, had been met by a volley of arrows, according to a police source. Two days later Chau paid the fishermen again to take him just off shore so he could paddle the rest of the way alone.
The source said Chau “was attacked by arrows but he continued walking. The fishermen saw the tribals tying a rope around his neck and dragging his body.
“They were scared and fled but returned next morning to find his body on the seashore.”
However, a fellow missionary wrote in an e-mail to his mother that the fishermen saw the tribe burying his body on the beach, the Washington Post reported.
“I believe he is still alive,” Lynda Adams-Chau wrote. Asked why, she replied: “My prayers.”
The Sentinelese number about 150 and outsiders are banned from going within 5km of their home – which is part of the Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal – to protect their way of life and to safeguard them from 21st century diseases.
The tribe, one of the last in the world thought to be untouched by modern civilisation, is known to be hostile to outsiders, having reportedly killed two fishermen whose boat drifted onto the island in 2006, and to have thrown spears at a helicopter checking for damage after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
‘Don’t be angry at them’
Chau called himself an “outbound collective explorer” and “snakebite survivor” on his purported Instagram account.
“You guys might think I’m crazy in all this but I think it’s worthwhile to declare Jesus to these people,” the media reports quoted a letter to his parents as saying.
“Please do not be angry at them or at God if I get killed,” he said.
“I can’t wait to see them around the throne of God worshipping in their own language as Revelations 7:9-10 states,” he wrote, referring to the apocalyptic final book of the Bible’s New Testament.
“God, I don’t want to die.”
Police officer Dependra Pathak, who disputed reports that Chau intended to convert the tribe, calling it “a misplaced adventure”, said authorities were still consulting with tribal welfare experts to determine how best to retrieve the body.
The US consulate in the southern Indian city of Chennai confirmed it was aware of the incident and said it was working with local authorities.
According to official sources, Chau had a tourist visa to enter the Andaman Islands, where access to some restricted zones is given, and had made several trips to other Andaman Islands before offering money to fishermen to take him to North Sentinel.
The Andamans are also home to the 400-strong Jarawa tribe, who activists say are threatened by contact from outsiders. But tourists have previously bribed local officials in a bid to spend time with them.
Indian authorities make periodic checks on the Sentinelese from boats anchored at a safe distance.
Survival International, a group protecting tribal people’s rights, said the “tragedy” of the American’s death “should never have been allowed to happen”.
“The Indian authorities should have been enforcing the protection of the Sentinelese and their island for the safety of both the tribe and outsiders,” it said.
The legal repercussions of Chau’s killing are unclear. However, police in the island chain have launched a murder investigation. Deepak Yadav, a senior police officer, said a case has been registered against “unknown tribesmen” and that six fishermen and one other person were arrested.
– © Telegraph Media Company Limited, additional reporting by AFP