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Why Greta Thunberg and activists are protesting 'illegal' wind turbines in Norway

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AFP/The Local - [email protected]
Why Greta Thunberg and activists are protesting 'illegal' wind turbines in Norway
Protesters in Norway are demonstrating to mark 500 days since the Fosen wind farm (not pictured) was ruled illegal. File photo shows wind turbines of the Storheia wind farm, one of Europe's largest land-based wind parks, in Afjord municipality, Norway. Photo by Jonathan Nackstrand/ AFP

Hundreds of protestors, Swedish activist Greta Thunberg among them, blocked the entrances to the Norwegian energy ministry in Oslo on Monday over the government's failure to act on a Supreme Court ruling on the Fosen wind farm. 

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Environmental activists and the Norwegian Sámi Association will continue protesting outside the Norwegian Ministry of Oil and Energy by blocking the building's entrances on Monday. 

The demonstrations, which began on Sunday, and include Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg among the ranks of protestors, were organised in response to the government's lack of action over a Supreme Court ruling on the Fosen wind farm. 

Demonstrations were planned to mark 500 days since the Supreme Court ruled that the Fosen wind farm violated the human rights of Sámi wild reindeer herders.

"It is clear that when a human rights violation has been going on for more than 500 days in Fosen, it is time to put measures in place," Ella Marie
Haetta Isaksen, a Sámi musician and activist, told Norwegian broadcaster TV 2.

Judges in the Supreme Court case previously declared the licences issued by the ministry to build and operate the turbines void, saying they violated the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

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The UN text's Article 27 states that ethnic minorities "shall not be denied the right, in community with the other members of their group, to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practice their own religion, or to use their own language."

Courts ruled that traditional Sámi reindeer herding is a form of protected cultural practice. Despite the ruling, the Norwegian government has not announced plans to remove the wind turbines deemed illegal. 

"There is no alternative to not listening to indigenous peoples who have their rights violated. It is absurd what is happening - that Sámi young people are so desperate that they have to use such methods," the climate activist Greta Thunberg told Norwegian public broadcaster NRK

Activists were initially removed from the ministry in the early hours of Monday by police. However, the demonstrators returned to the government quarter to block the entrances of buildings. As a result, civil servants at six ministries have been asked to work from home. 

President of the Sámi Parliament, Silje Karine Muotka, has asked to meet with Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre to discuss the wind turbine on the Fosen peninsula. The meeting will come later in the week and after Moutka has met with energy minister Aasland. 

Meanwhile, the Socialist Left Party has said that it will summon Støre to parliament to ask the PM how the government will resolve the issue. 

Petroleum and energy minister Terje Aasland acknowledged Monday that the case was a "heavy burden" for Sami reindeer herders.

"But even though the Supreme Court has found that the permits granted violate the legal protection of the reindeer herders, it has not made a decision on what will happen" to the turbines, he told newswire AFP.

"That is what we are now trying to determine. Changing the permits in Fosen requires that the issue is sufficiently studied," he added in an email to AFP.

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