Family of 'beloved' missionary forgive hostile Sentinelese for killing him

The family of an American missionary killed by a remote hostile tribe have forgiven them.

On Sunday, the body of John Allen Chau was found being dragged around by a tribe on India's North Sentinel Island after he travelled to the island to attempt to covert the tribe to Christianity, but was shot to death with arrows.

Mr Chau - a devout Christian and avid outdoorsman - had nothing for love for the Sentinelese people, his family said.

In a message posted on his Instagram, his family said that words could not express the sadness they had experienced since hearing of the death of the beloved son, brother and uncle. They also asked that people "forgive those reportedly responsible for his death".

The fishermen that took Mr Chau to the island have been arrested, but the family believe they should also not be held responsible.

"We also ask for the release of those friends he had in the Andaman Islands. He ventured out on his own free will and his local contacts need not be persecuted for his own actions."

Mr Chau reportedly had made previous trips to the island as he formulated a plan to "establish the kingdom of Jesus" on the island, reports

Indian media report Mr Chau kept a journal, where he detailed his confusion with the tribe becoming increasingly anxious and frustrated with his actions.

"I have been so nice to them. Why are they so angry and so aggressive?" Mr Chau reportedly wrote. "[I am] doing this to establish the kingdom of Jesus on the island... do not blame the natives if I am killed."

While Indian police have begun a murder investigation, the Sentinelese people that attacked him cannot be charged. There are strict laws that prevent people from bothering the tribe in attempt to shelter the group from diseases and protect their culture.

Although Andaman and Nicobar Islands police director-general Dependra Pathak said authorities were working to recover his body, that may be easier said than done.

In 2006, the tribe attacked and killed two men when the fishing boat they were on became unanchored off the coast of North Sentinel Island in the night and drifted towards the remote island. Attempts to recover their bodies were fruitless, with the tribesmen shooting arrows at the coast guard's boat and helicopters.

Family of 'beloved' missionary forgive hostile Sentinelese for killing him
Photo credit: Indian Coast Guard

A similar scene welcomed helicopters in 2004 when authorities attempted to survey damage to the island by the Indonesian tsunami.

The group of between 50 and 200 are believed to be among the last inhabitants in the world to resist contact with the rest of the world.

The Sentinelese fire arrows at a helicopter surveying damage from the 2004 Indonesian tsunami.
The Sentinelese fire arrows at a helicopter surveying damage from the 2004 Indonesian tsunami. Photo credit: Indian Coast Guard

Stephen Corry from Survival International, a charity which campaigns to protect the Sentinelese, said Mr Chau's death shouldn't have happened.

"The Indian authorities should have been enforcing the protection of the Sentinelese and their island for the safety of both the tribe and outsiders."