An isolated Indian tribe that killed an American missionary trying to convert them will not face murder charges.
John Allen Chau was 26 when he ventured onto North Sentinel Island last year in a bid to spread his faith among the Sentinelese – the world’s last ‘untouched’ community.
Illegally taken there by fishermen, he was killed in a bow and arrow attack soon after arriving on the island, and buried in the sand the morning after.
In his final message to his family, the Christian missionary wrote: “You guys might think I am crazy in all this but I think it’s worth it to declare Jesus to these people.
“This is not a pointless thing – the eternal lives of this tribe is at hand and I can’t wait to see them around the throne of God worshipping in their own language as Revelation 7:9-10 states.”
Now Faithwire reports the Ambassador-at-Large for Religious Freedom Sam Brownback has confirmed the US will not be taking the case further.
On February 7, he told a press conference: “The US government has not asked or pursued any sort of sanctions that the Indian government would take against the tribal people in this case.
“That’s not been something that we have requested or have put forward.
“It’s a tragic situation and a tragic case of what’s happened, but that’s not something that’s been asked.”
Last week, Mr Chau’s dad spoke out, blaming “extreme Christianity” for his son’s death.
“If you have (anything) positive to say about religion, l wish not to see or hear,” Dr Patrick Chau told The Guardian.
Indian authorities said days after the November 2018 killing that they had no plans to retrieve the 26-year-old’s body.
It was feared their presence could antagonise the tribe further, with the Sentinielese having always resisted the presence of outsiders.
On November 2018, Mr Chau attempted his first visit to the island by a boat that took him around 500–700 metres from the shore.
Fishermen warned him not to go any further, but he continued alone in a canoe with a Bible to the shore.
As he approached the island, he saw the islanders and attempted to communicate with them, shouting: “My name is John, I love you and Jesus loves you.”
He later recorded in his journal that he had greeted them and attempted to offer gifts, but they continued to approach him and he hurriedly retreated in his canoe.
On further visits, Mr Chau recorded the islanders reacted to him with a mixture of amusement, bewilderment and hostility.
He attempted to sing worship songs to them, and spoke to them in Xhosa, after which they often fell silent, while other attempts to communicate ended with them bursting into laughter.
He recorded that they communicated with “lots of high pitched sounds” and gestures.
Eventually, when he tried to hand over fish and gifts, a boy shot a metal-headed arrow that pierced the Bible Mr Chau was holding in front of his chest, and he left the island.
On his final visit, on November 17, Mr Chau instructed the fishermen to leave without him.
The fishermen later saw the islanders dragging Mr Chau’s body, and the next day they saw his body on the shore.
The Washington Post obtained Mr Chau’s journal, which stated that he had a clear desire to convert the tribe and was aware of the risk of death he faced and of the illegality of his visits to the island.
He wrote: “Lord, is this island Satan’s last stronghold where none have heard or even had the chance to hear your name?”
Police subsequently arrested seven fishermen for assisting Mr Chau to get close to the restricted island.
Human rights group Survival International said it was possible the American had infected the tribe with pathogens to which they have no immunity, “with the potential to wipe out the entire tribe”.
Indian officials made several attempts to recover Mr Chau’s body, but on November 28 decided to abandon those efforts.
An anthropologist involved in the case told The Guardian that the risk of a dangerous clash between investigators and the islanders was too great to justify any further attempts.