Climate activists you should know: Disha Ravi

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Name: Disha Ravi

Age: 24

City: Bengaluru, India

Area of Focus: Climate change

“Free Disha Ravi!”

In 2020, Indian farmers began protesting new agricultural laws that gave private corporations increased control over agriculture and removed the government’s minimum support price for produce.

In February 2021, the already massive movement gained increased global attention following the arrest of then 22-year-old Disha Ravi by Indian police.

Ravi was charged with sedition and conspiracy — all because she helped edit a farmers’ protest toolkit that Greta Thunberg shared on Twitter.

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Ravi is a powerhouse in India’s climate movement.

In 2019, Ravi co-founded India’s Fridays for Future chapter and began organizing strikes across the country.

She became involved after realizing the impact climate change was having on her family. In an interview that year, Ravi said that her grandparents are farmers and “struggle with the effects of the climate crisis.”

“At the time, I wasn’t aware that what they were experiencing was the climate crisis because climate education is non-existent where I’m from,” Ravi added.

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In India, people continue to suffer because of laws that are anti-people. We live in a country where dissent is suppressed. ... The government needs to work with the people to protect the people. The time for prevention is over, we need recovery and a just transition.

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After Ravi’s arrest, Bengaluru took a stand

Through her activism, Ravi had became a familiar figure in her hometown of Bengaluru, a landlocked city that often experiences heavy flooding.

As another Bengaluru activist told The Guardian, “Disha was known as incredibly hard-working, completely dedicated to environmental causes.”

So it’s no surprise that Ravi’s arrest was met with protest. In her hometown, people took to the streets with pictures of Ravi’s face and signs reading “when injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty.”

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This government of India is attacking environmental activists and Disha’s arrest shows there is a clear, deeply worrying pattern. The point here is to destabilize and then erase all dissent.

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At a press briefing, Delhi police official Prem Nath claimed the protest toolkit Ravi was arrested over was intended to “create misinformation and disaffection against the lawfully enacted government.”

But Ravi said in court that she didn’t make the toolkit, and she only edited two lines of it. Ten days after her arrest, Ravi was released from New Delhi’s Tihar jail on bail. On March 13, Disha released an Instagram statement about the her arrest. She wrote:

“Locked in my cell, I wondered when it became a crime to think the most basic elements of sustenance on this planet were as much mine as theirs.”

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I greatly believe that only when we come together can we make a dent. That — and transformative justice. Both of these go hand in hand because when you work on building a large movement, you will find a lot of disagreements and even more mistakes, but it is important to hold each other close with love and imagine a better future.

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