Greta Thunberg tweets support for Indian activist detained over protest 'toolkit'

Swedish climate campaigner Greta Thunberg has expressed support for the Indian farmers protest
Swedish climate campaigner Greta Thunberg has expressed support for the Indian farmers protest Jonathan NACKSTRAND AFP/File
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Stockholm (AFP)

Greta Thunberg on Friday tweeted her support for an Indian activist jailed over a guide for anti-government farmers protests, which the Swedish climate campaigner had earlier shared to social media.

In a post on Twitter, Thunberg wrote "freedom of speech and the right to peaceful protest and assembly are non-negotiable human rights."

"These must be a fundamental part of any democracy. #StandWithDishaRavi," the 18-year-old activist tweeted, referring to Indian climate campaigner Disha Ravi.

Ravi, 22, was arrested on Saturday. Police alleged she helped edit a so-called toolkit, which offers basic advice including joining on-the-ground protests and showing support on social media.

"The main aim of the toolkit was to create misinformation and disaffection against the lawfully enacted government", Delhi Police's Joint Commissioner of Police for Cyber Crime, Prem Nath, told reporters on Monday.

Officers decided to investigate the toolkit after Thunberg linked to it in a tweet in early February showing support for farmers protesting against new agriculture laws deregulating the sector.

Delhi Police added Monday they had also issued arrest warrants for two others for allegedly working with Ravi to draft the online document.

Ravi's arrest has been criticised by opposition politicians and activists within India, with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal -- whose Common Man Party supports the demonstrations -- calling it "an unprecedented attack on Democracy."

Farmers have been camping on the outskirts of the capital since late November, and calling for the repeal of new agriculture laws, in one of the biggest challenges to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government since it came to power to 2014.

Modi has said the changes are necessary to modernise India's agriculture sector, but protesters fear they would be placed at the mercy of big corporations.

The tussle between the government and the farmers took an international turn in early February when Rihanna and Thunberg tweeted about the rallies to their millions of social media followers.