Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg drew the ire of police prosecutors in India on Thursday after she used social media to offer running commentary and advice on violent protests by the country’s farmers.
The 18-year-old left-wing eco-activist shared — and then quickly deleted — a message that detailed a list of “suggested posts” about the ongoing civil disorder, according to a report in the NY Post, which her critics say reveals she is being coached on what position to take by outsiders.
The list gave a series of tips on what to post on social media, asking her to also repost and tag other celebrities tweeting about it, including pop star Rihanna.
As well as the Twitter storm, the “toolkit” she shared also suggested highlighting planned demonstrations at Indian embassies.
— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) February 4, 2021
— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) February 2, 2021
For her part, Rihanna tweeted to her more than 101 million followers: “Why aren’t we talking about this?!” She linked to a CNN news report about India blocking internet services at the protest sites, a tactic of the government to thwart protests.
Senior government ministers, Indian celebrities and even the foreign ministry are now urging people to come together and denounce “outsiders” like Thunberg and Rihanna who try to “break the country.”
“It is unfortunate to see vested interest groups trying to enforce their agenda on these protests, and derail them,” India’s foreign ministry said Wednesday in a rare statement criticizing “foreign individuals” posting on social media. It did not name Rihanna and others who followed suit.
Tens of thousands of farmers have been hunkering down at the Indian capital’s fringes to protest new agricultural laws they say will leave them poorer and at the mercy of corporations. The protests are posing a major challenge to Prime Minister Narendra Modi who has billed the laws as necessary to modernize Indian farming.
Their largely peaceful protests turned violent on Jan. 26, India’s Republic Day, when a section of the tens of thousands of farmers riding tractors veered from the protest route earlier decided with police and stormed the 17th century Red Fort in a dramatic escalation.
Hundreds of police officers were injured and a protester died. Scores of farmers were also injured but officials have not given their numbers.
Farmer leaders condemned the violence but said they would not call off the protest.