Image copyrightINDIAN COASTGUARD/SURVIVAL INTERNATIONAL via BBC
I have no sympathy for this man, who was killed while attempting to illegally contact one of the remotest tribes in the world and convert them to Christianity.
John Allen Chau from Alabama, clearly knew what he was doing was wrong. He had someone sneak him onto an Andaman island in India where the Sentinelese tribe live. There are estimated to be 50 to 150 members of the tribe and contact is forbidden to protect them from outside diseases.
You can even be charged for simply taking photos of them.
He set up a covert operation to get himself onto the island, and came back to the boat once with arrows having been shot at him.
Sky News reports that his mother showed showed a journal he had written in after that first encounter:
The journal said: “I hollered, ‘My name is John, I love you and Jesus loves you’.”
He said one of the boys in the tribe fired an arrow which pierced his waterproof Bible.
Mr Chau told his family in his last note to them on 16 November: “You guys might think I’m crazy in all this but I think it’s worthwhile to declare Jesus to these people… God, I don’t want to die.”
He then tried again a couple of days later, and then a third time. That time he did not return. He was seen on the beach shot by arrows, and finally being dragged around by a rope around his neck. And that was that.
The tribesmen did not become Christian.
Now at great expense and effort the authorities are trying to get his body back. Seven fisherman who helped get him onto the island have been arrested.
From the reports, it sounds like the authorities are not exactly sympathetic either. Why would they be? He wasn’t doing “God’s work”, but the work of a Western Imperialist’s ego. We certainly have been through all this on a grander scale before.
His generous family have now released a statement saying among other flourishes:
We forgive those responsible for his death.
How very generous. I’m not sure what he was doing is forgivable; trying to foist his self-righteous ideals on a group of vulnerable people who he was told to stay away from, and who gave him ample opportunity to back down.
He wrote he was “doing this to establish the kingdom of Jesus on the island… Do not blame the natives if I am killed,” the source said.
Indeed, he has only himself to blame. But he’s dead.
From the BBC: John Allen Chau: Family forgive tribe who killed American