Experts shut down missionary group's defense of American John Chau visiting remote tribe that killed him
Last week, it became known that American missionary John Allen Chau had been killed by the remote North Sentinelese, the tribespeople of North Sentinel Island.
Chau had reportedly travelled to the island in a bid to convert the tribespeople to Christianity; according to the Washington Post, a final note to his family read, "You guys might think I'm crazy in all of this but I think it's worthwhile to declare Jesus to these people ... God, I don't want to die."
He is believed to have been transported into nearby waters by local fishermen, some of whom were subsequently arrested, and made two trips onto land, the latter ending in his death.
The tribespeople of North Sentinel Island are known as some of the most remote human beings on Earth, and it is prohibited for visitors to attempt to make contact with them. This is both for the tribe's protection, and any would-be visitors. The tribe is notoriously averse to outsiders, and has a long history of attacking those who attempt to journey to the island. The North Sentinelese are particularly at risk to modern illnesses to which they have no immunity, a fact that makes any visitors to the island extremely dangerous to them.
Now, in an interview with Christianity Today, Mary Ho, international executive of All Nations, a Christian missionary group, has defended Chau's decision to visit the island, even claiming that he did not pose a health risk to the tribe.
“We are talking about a different time here, we’re talking about a time right now when there is modern medicine, when there are antibiotics,” she is reported as saying.
Well, Stephen Corry, the director of Survival International has slammed these statements, saying in response;
"This displays an extraordinary level of ignorance, which highlights why it’s so dangerous for such people to be anywhere near uncontacted tribes.
“The idea that widespread deaths amongst newly contacted tribes is a matter of past history is easy to disprove.
“There are many cases in the last few decades where this has been recorded, especially in Brazil and Peru. For example, the Nahua, Peru, suffered over 50% of deaths in the 1980s following contact.”
Ho is also reported as saying that John Allen Chau quarantined himself for "many days" before setting of for the island, but it's been pointed out that his contact with the fishermen who helped him reach the waters would have nullified any such attempted at quarantine.
Ho is said to have claimed that Chau “attempted to get 13 types of immunization”, to which Corry of Survival International responded;
"We have no idea what this means. In any case, there is no immunization available against the common cold, which has been one of the main problems with uncontacted peoples.
“The initial viral infection (against which antibiotics are useless) commonly leads to secondary infections which prove deadly.”
The tribe of North Sentinel Island have made it clear that they want to be left well alone. Groups like Survival International are urging people to do exactly that.