Sami activists launch fresh protests over illegal wind turbines in Norway

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Sami activists launch fresh protests over illegal wind turbines in Norway
Sami activists have started fresh protests over illegal wind turbines in Norway. File photo: the president of the Sami Parliament, Silje Karine Muotka (L) in traditional outfit is welcomed by activists from the "Nature and Youth" and "Norwegian Samirs Riksforbund Nuorat" as they were blocking the Ministry of finances to protest against wind turbines built on land traditionally used to her reindeer, in Oslo. (Photo by Olivier MORIN / AFP)

Environment and indigenous Sami activists blocked a central Oslo intersection on Wednesday to protest against wind turbines still in place on reindeer herding land two years to the day after a court ruled them illegal.


On October 11th, 2021, Norway's Supreme Court found that two wind farms in the Fosen region of western Norway -- on land used by Sami reindeer herders -- violated the rights of the indigenous people to practice their culture of reindeer husbandry.

Two years later, the turbines are still operating. In its ruling, the court found that the expropriation and operating permits for the construction of the 151 turbines were invalid.

However, it gave no guidance on what should be done with the turbines, which were already in operation.

On Wednesday, hundreds of activists, some dressed in traditional Sami clothing, blocked the main Oslo thoroughfare where they erected a laavo, a Sami tent.

They called for the wind turbines to be dismantled and the land restored. Some of them sat on the ground, unfurling a banner reading "The rights of indigenous peoples are not optional".

"Prime Minister (Jonas Gahr) Store must take his responsibility, stop the human rights violation and make sure it won't happen again," said Gina Gylver, the head of the Norwegian branch of the environment organisation Friends of the Earth.

An indigenous minority of around 100,000 people spread over the northern parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia, the Sami have traditionally lived off reindeer herding and fishing.

Sami activists have held protests on symbolic dates since the Supreme Court's ruling, with this latest one expected to last several days.


Swedish climate and environment campaigner Greta Thunberg is due to join the protest on Thursday.

She took part in a protest held in February to mark the 500th day since the Supreme Court ruling.

Norway's government has apologised to Sami reindeer herding families and launched a mediation process to try to find a solution enabling both the herders and wind farms to continue their activities. It has yet to comment on Wednesday's protest.

The ruling could set a precedent for other infrastructure projects on the vast lands traditionally used by the Sami across Norway.



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