Isolated island tribe kills man who tried to convert them to Christianity

I think we have a possible winner for the 2018 Darwin Awards. 

And as a disclaimer, I don’t normally relish in the misery of others. But when you intentionally put yourself in an extremely dangerous situation, especially when it’s for an extraordinarily dumb reason, you get what you get. 

Play stupid games, win stupid prizes. 

A Christian missionary from Alabama named John Allen Chau traveled to an isolated island off the coast of Myanmar with the goal of converting its inhabitants to Christianity. He planned the trip for three years, despite knowing that historically, the tribe has been aggressive towards outsiders, and despite knowing that it is illegal to contact the tribe.

Hilarity did not ensue.

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According to the BBC:

Contact with the endangered Andaman tribes living in isolation from the world is illegal because of the risks to them from outside disease.

Estimates say the Sentinelese, who are totally cut off from civilisation, number only between 50 and 150.

… The AFP news agency quoted a source as saying that Chau had tried and failed to reach the island on 14 November. But then he tried again two days later.

“He 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,” the report added.

Chau’s body was spotted on 20 November. According to the Hindustan Times, his remains have yet to be recovered.

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And because it’s illegal to have contact with the tribe… They can’t be arrested or charged with a crime.

“It’s a difficult case for the police,” says Mr Bhaumik. “You can’t even arrest the Sentinelese.”

Again, I don’t normally enjoy mocking the misery of others. But in addition to knowing that it was illegal to contact them, and in addition to the difficulty in even reaching the tribe in the first place, Chau had multiple opportunities to not die. 

On November 15th, the crew he hired to take him to the island stopped about 500 meters off the coast of the island. Chau took a canoe into the island, and was met with a barrage of arrows. He returned to the boat on November 15th with injuries from the arrows. Normally this would be a clear sign of “hey, maybe I should not do this,” but Chau went back on November 16th. The tribe destroyed his canoe, and he had to swim back to his boat. 

And even then, he went back on November 17th at which point, putatively, the Sentinelese tribe killed him. 

Good for them. If more indigenous people had done this a few hundred years ago, the world today would be a much better place. 

As I said before, it’s been well established that the tribe is aggressive towards outsiders. Following the tsunami in 2004, the tribe fired arrows at helicopters that went to the island to see if the tribe survived the disaster. 

A navy helicopter on patrol had flown over the North Sentinel island of the archipelago where the Sentinelese live to check on them.

As they descended a bit to take a closer look, members of the tribe began firing arrows at them.

“So we knew that they were safe,” the pilot told us.

Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

Written by Dan Broadbent

Science Enthusiast. Atheist. Lover of cats.




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