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8-Year-Old Girl’s Complaint About Media Comparing Her To Greta Thunberg Goes Viral; Twitter Suspends Her Account, Explains
Child environmental activist from India, Licypriya Kangujam (L) and Democratic presidential hopeful Michael Bloomberg slap hands during the UN Climate Change Conference COP25 at the 'IFEMA - Feria de Madrid' exhibition centre, in Madrid, on December 10, 2019. - UN climate negotiations in Madrid remained bogged down yesterday in the fine print of the Paris treaty rulebook, out-of-sync with a world demanding action to forestall the ravages of global warming. The 196-nation talks should kick into high-gear today with the arrival of ministers, but on the most crucial issue of all -- slashing the greenhouse gas emissions overheating the planet -- major emitters have made it clear they have nothing to say. (Photo by CRISTINA QUICLER / AFP)

An 8-year-old activist from India took to social media last week to voice a complaint against the news media. She is not “Greta of India,” as they’ve repeatedly described her, Licypriya Kangujam declared in a statement on Twitter — and calling her that is “deleting” her story. The truth is, Kangujam pointed out, she started her climate change activism a month ahead of the media-privileged Thunberg, despite the Swedish activist being twice her age.

Shortly after Kangujam posted the complaint, the platform suspended her account, prompting accusations of censorship for dissing Thunberg and claims of white privilege. But Twitter has since offered an explanation for its actions, saying that the brief suspension was a response to her age not her “Greta of India” complaint.

“Dear Media, Stop calling me ‘Greta of India’,” the 8-year-old activist wrote early last week along with a video of her holding a climate change sign that has amassed nearly 2 million views. “I am not doing my activism to looks like Greta Thunberg. Yes, she is one of our Inspiration & great influencer. We have common goal but I have my own identity, story. I began my movement since July 2018 even before Greta was started.”

“I first raised my voice to world leaders in Mongolia in an UN event in July 4, 2018,” she continued. “Since then I started my movement called ‘Child Movement’. In Hindi, we called it ‘Bachpan Andolan’ to call our world leaders to take immediate climate action. As I felt my work is more important than the organisation, I have less publicity and media coverage. Only media came to notice me when I spend a week in front of the Parliament House of India on July 21, 2019. Before that also, I began my Parliament Movement since Feb. 2, 2019.”

“I even dropped out my school since February 2019 (before Grade 1 final exam) when I was just 7 years old due to my protests every week in front of the Parliament House of India,” she noted, an action similar to that of Thunberg. “I sacrificed so much of my life in this tender age is not to called me ‘Greta of India’.”

“If you call me ‘Greta of India’, you are not covering my story. You are deleting a story,” she concluded.

Within a few days of “calling out the media,” the 8-year-old found that her account was suspended.

“It’s a matter of great pain that [Twitter] has suspended my twitter account [Licypriya Kangujam] after writing a posts on media not to call me ‘Greta of India’ on 27 January, 2020,” Kangujam announced Thursday through her “The Child Movement” account.

Her supporters quickly let the world know about the “painful” suspension, some alleging that it was a result of Western censorship and white supremacy. Amid what she described as “global pressure” to get her back online, her account was reinstated by Twitter within hours — with a brand new blue check next to her name.

In a message addressed to Twitter after she was reinstated, Kangujam declared herself and her movement “UNSTOPPABLE.”

“Dear [Twitter], WE ARE UNSTOPPABLE,” she tweeted Friday. “Finally my account has been restored after global pressure. Thanks everyone who supported me. This is possible because of all your love. Special thanks to all my Climate Activist friends across the globe. No words to express my feelings.”

“No one can judge people on age. Age doesn’t matter to make a difference,” Kangujam told WION News Friday after her briefly suspended account was restored. “This is child power. Twitter shouldn’t attempt to silence the voice of young climate activist in any part of the world in future.”

Twitter, however, says that her temporary suspension had nothing to do with her comments about Greta but, rather, their policies on the age of users.

“Licypriya’s parents said that an email from Twitter suggested they needed to update the account to ‘explicitly state’ they are the ones running the account,” BuzzFeed News reports. “According to Twitter’s rules, you have to be at least 13 years old to set up and manage your own account if you have parental consent.”

“They will restore the account but ‘the bio needs to be updated to explicitly state that the account is run by the parents? This is to further prevent suspensions in the future as manage by Team Licy is a bit vague and doesn’t necessarily imply that a parent or legal guardian is the curator,'” the outlet reports.

The child activist has also posted a statement of solidarity with Thunberg and took another swipe at the media, accusing them of trying to “play with the young souls.”

“GretaThunberg says she & other young #climate activists are ‘fighting for the exact same cause’: We are all on the same side and support each other, even though the media portrays us differently #FridaysForFuture,” said Megan Rowling in a post highlighted by Kangujam.

“Exactly!” Licypriya replied. “Media are playing with the young souls!!! No doubt. We support each other and we are on same side! Not only leaders, media also need to change their mindset.”


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