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Climate activist from India, 10, invited to East Timor Inauguration | Climate Crisis News
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Climate activist from India, 10, invited to East Timor Inauguration | Climate Crisis News

Licypriya Kangujam


Among the people attending the inauguration ceremony of East Timor’s new President José Ramos-HortaIndia’s climate activist of 10 years old, he will be honored.

Licypriya Kangujam was invited as a special guest of honour for the inauguration of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate on Thursday, a day before Asia’s youngest country marks the 20th anniversary of its independence.

East Timor (formerly Timor-Leste) was colonized in Portugal in the 18th Century and remained under Portugal’s authority until 1975. When the Portuguese left, troops from Indonesia invaded the island nation and annexed it as its 27th provincial.

UN-sponsored Referendum for FreedomHeld in 1999, the nation of 1.3million people emerged as a republic three-years later. After a brutal retreat from Indonesian forces, it was dissolved.

‘Invitation very special’

Kangujam, who is the founder of The Child Movement environmental organisation, told Al Jazeera she was “very surprised” when she first got the invitation to attend the high-profile event.

“Usually at such big events, only foreign presidents and prime ministers are invited as special guests. I feel this invitation is very special and has a great message on how small island countries like East Timor are threatened by climate change,” she said.

“The inclusion of climate activists in every field and decision-making process is quite important.”

The child activist claimed that her visit would strengthen relations between India, East Timor, and other countries.

Licypriya Kangujam
Licypriya and her sister Irina play at home in Noida while their mother Bidyarani watches. [File: Anushree Fadnavis/Reuters]

Kangujam was born near Imphal, in the northeastern Indian state Manipur. When she was five years of age, her family moved from Imphal in northeastern India to Bhubaneswar (coastal state of Odisha), where Cyclone Titli (2018) and Cyclone Fani 2019 killed hundreds and destroyed homes.

At the age of nine, Kangujam moved to Noida on the outskirts of the Indian capital New Delhi, one of the world’s most polluted cities, where she lives with her mother and a younger sister.

The fifth-grade student says the climate crisis in Odisha and New Delhi’s pollution issues left a deep impression on her and turned her into one of the world’s youngest climate activists.

She addressed world leaders at the United Nations Climate Conference 2019 in Madrid, urging them take immediate action to save the future for children like her.

Licypriya Kangujam
Kangujam speaks during UN Climate Change Conference (COP25), Madrid [File: Susana Vera/Reuters]

The young activist said she was the only one who started her movement in 2018 alone. “But today I have love and support from thousands of people across the globe.”

Several foreign dignitaries are attending Ramos-Horta’s inauguration ceremony.

According to a White House statement, US President Joe Biden announced Monday that a presidential delegation would be visiting the country.

Ramos-Horta won a landslide victory last month in the presidential election. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 1996 for his efforts in bringing a peaceful solution to the East Timor conflict.

The Nobel laureate previously served as president from 2007 to 2012 and was also the country’s first prime minister.

Ap Photo child activism climate
Kangujam holds an advertisement at Juhu beach during a cleaning trip in Mumbai [File: Rajanish Kakade/AP]

‘Will listen to their stories’

East Timor is very vulnerable to climate changes, with rising sea level, frequent floods and cyclones as well as droughts.

Last year, Tropical Storm Seroja killed dozens of people while displacing 7,000.

During her visit to East Timor, Kangujam will address the country’s parliament and visit the University of East Timor. Kangujam said that civil society organisations in the country invited her to meet with children and young people.

“I will listen to their stories and will also tell the world about the problems they are facing. We will talk about long-term peace and development and how we can fight climate change together,” she told Al Jazeera.

“My voice will represent the unheard voices of the millions of people of the world and also for the countless, voiceless animals.”


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