Currently — March 28th, 2023

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A Year After Her Arrest, Indian Climate Activist Disha Ravi Is Still Not Free | Atmos
Writer Amber X. Chen talks to Indian climate justice activist Disha Ravi a year after her arrest in this special edition of The Frontline.

In honor of Women’s History Month, Currently is spotlighting the women and femmes who are—and continue to be—the backbone of the environmental and climate justice movement and pioneered the work to protect communities.

"We are not just fighting for our future, we are fighting for our present. We, the people from the most affected, are going to change the conversation in climate negotiations and lead a just recovery plan that benefits people and not the pockets of our government."

Disha Ravi is a climate justice activist from Bengaluru, India and the founder of the Indian branch of the Fridays for Future network.

At just 22 years old, Ravi became the face of India’s fight against dissent, supporting the farmers’ protests that eventually led to her arrest on Feb. 13, 2021.

But, her interest in environmental justice was sparked at a young age, as she saw both her grandparents, who were farmers, face droughts, extreme heat, and struggle for access to water in rural India. Growing up in a landlocked city, she frequently experienced floods.

In September 2020, tens of thousands of farmers in India protested against farm laws that would put their livelihoods at risk leaving them in the hands of private corporations. Ravi stepped in and was eventually arrested at her home and placed in the custody of Dehli police, without a lawyer. She was charged with sedition and criminal conspiracy, related to a “toolkit” document about the protests.

In court, Ravi said her connection to the toolkit didn’t hold seditious intent, as she had only edited two lines of it. She received bail after 10 days, upon the condition that she doesn’t leave the country without court permission. As a result, she missed COP26.

Still, she remained outspoken against India’s use of coal and fossil fuels as well as its promises for geopolitical equity. Ravi continues to organize strikes across the country and campaigns and coalition-building through FFF India.

“To a large extent, I have not seen this work as ‘activism,’ but that we are simply the Earth protecting itself,” Ravi told Atmos.

In November 2021, after about a year of protests, India repealed the farm laws.

“I greatly believe that only when we come together can we make a dent,” Ravi told Atmos. “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.”

—Aarohi Sheth

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