British traveler Daniel Robinson has been in jail since October 2006 because he strayed across the Indo-Tibetan border. We call on the authorities to free Robinson immediately, both as a clemency for his health and as a remedy for the highly punitive sentence that was imposed for such an unintentional infraction.
This case amply illustrates the ridiculous state of affairs that prevails along the highly disputed border, where local people have been cut off from their old colleagues and lands for 45 years. The “crime” in question was to retrace ancient trade routes in the Himalayas which is a crying need for scholarship on the region, and to stray into Indian territory due to his horses falling ill and becoming pregnant. The worse that should have happened to Robinson is that he could have been deported back to the Chinese side of the border, not interrogated, accused of being a Chinese (!) spy, denied a lawyer, and sentenced to a year in a dank overcrowded Hardwar jail cell.
Interestingly, these troubles with local authorities has been an age-old problem for Himalayan travelers, as even 19th century explorers had to hide from Tibetan authorities on pain of deportation, imprisonment, or worse. However, in these times where people’s identities and intentions are well known, there is no need for such gratuitous xenophobia.
This case is a huge blot on the judiciary of the country, and the mindlessness of the national security apparatus.
Here’s the link to the campaign to free Dan.
And a couple of articles about Robinson’s case: