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News > World

US Will Not Recover Body of Missionary Near Sentinel Island

  • John Allen Chau attempted to contact the Indigenous Sentinelese tribe living in Bay of Bengal, India.

    John Allen Chau attempted to contact the Indigenous Sentinelese tribe living in Bay of Bengal, India. | Photo: Reuters

Published 22 February 2019

The United States government will not present charges or attempt to recover the body of the young missionary from an island in Bay of Bengal of India.

United States Ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom, Sam Brownback, confirms that the United States will not present charges or attempt to recover the body of a missionary, who attempted to make contact with an Indigenous tribe from an Indian island.


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"The government of the United States will not initiate any action against the tribe. It’s a tragic situation and a tragic case of what’s happened, but that’s not something that’s been asked," Brownback said in a press conference. 

Twenty-seven-year-old John Allen Chau was killed by arrows fired by the peoples of an uncontacted protected Sentinelese tribe after making attempts to contact and convert the tribe to Christianity. The Indigenous tribe lives in isolation and Indian legislation prohibits entry to the Andaman and Nicobar islands, where they reside. 

The government of India evaluated the possibility of recovering Chau's remains, but entering the island would endanger the entire tribe.

Sophie Grig, senior researcher for Survival International and activist for isolated groups stated that she does not believe "there is any safe way to retrieve the body without putting both the Sentinelese and those attempting it at risk."

The Sentinelese people are believed to be the descendants of the first humans to inhabit Asia. 

"We have no clue about their communication systems, their history, and culture, how can we go anywhere near them," Anup Kapoor, professor of Anthropology at the University of New Delhi, said. "What we know is that they have been killed and persecuted historically by the British and the Japanese. They hate anyone in uniform. If they see someone in uniform, they will kill him on the spot."

Chau reportedly paid two fishermen to take him close to the island. According to a personal diary, the missionary attempted to contact with the Sentinelese people on three different occasions.

The first: the deceased recorded seeing a group of women near a beach and yelled, "My name is John. I love you and Jesus loves you!"

Chau then managed to get onto the island illegally, last year, and was greeted by a barrage of arrows.

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