An Australian politician known for her staunch anti-immigration policy has praised a remote Indian island tribe for defending their way of life after reportedly killing an American missionary with bows and arrows earlier this month.
Sen. Pauline Hanson, of the country’s One Nation Party, filed a motion on Tuesday calling for the Senate to “support the desire of the Sentinelese people to protect their culture and way of life,” Australia’s ABC News reported.
“I for one will not be condemning the Sentinelese as racist for keeping their borders closed, nor will I condemn them for their lack of diversity,” Hanson said.
The North Sentinel Island’s Sentinelese tribe, which has a history of hostility toward outsiders, reportedly killed 26-year-old John Allen Chau, of Vancouver, Wash., and buried his body on the beach. Chau tried to make contact with the indigenous people out of a desire to bring Christianity to the islanders .
“You would be hard pressed to find a single expert who would argue against protecting the Sentinelese people’s culture and way of life through limiting migration to their island,” Hanson said.
Visitation to North Sentinel Island is heavily restricted by the Indian government and contact with the Sentinelese tribe that lives there is illegal, in order to protect their indigenous way of life and prevent the spread of diseases.
But Hanson’s fellow politicians didn’t support the senator’s motion, saying her apparent support of indigenous rights is a hypocritical “attempt to exploit” the tribe “for her own base political purposes.”
“It is rankly hypocritical for Senator Hanson to pretend to be sticking up for people like the North Sentinelese given her record victimizing and degrading Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia,” said Sen. Nick McKim, according to ABC News.
Hanson has previously sought to ban Asian and Muslim immigrants from coming to Australia, accused her country’s aboriginals of milking government benefits and — just last month — threatened to kick a 9-year-old aboriginal girl who refused to stand for the national anthem, the Washington Postreported.
Now tribal rights groups have urged the Indian government to leave Chau’s body on the island out of fear its retrieval could lead to further danger.
Police are consulting anthropologists, tribal welfare experts and scholars to figure out a way to recover the body, officials said.
Fox News’ Edmund DeMarche, Ryan Gaydos and the Associated Press contributed to this report.