HomeNewsIn Oslo, young Sámi protesters demand the dismantling of two wind farms

    In Oslo, young Sámi protesters demand the dismantling of two wind farms

    Ella Marie Haetta Isaksen (center), spokesperson for the Sami movement, facing the Norwegian Minister of Petroleum and Energy, Terje Aasland, during a demonstration for the dismantling of two wind farms, in Oslo, February 28, 2023.

    Since February 23, a hundred young Sámi and climate activists belonging to the organization “Natur og Ungdom” (“Nature and Youth”) have been blocking the entrances to several ministries in Oslo. The demonstrators demand the dismantling of two wind farms, which the Norwegian Supreme Court ruled in October 2021, violated the rights of the last indigenous people in Europe.

    Every morning at 7, the young people take their position in traditional dress in front of the doors of the ministries. Every day, the police come to dislodge them. On Wednesday, March 1, they were joined by the Swede Greta Thunberg, who made it clear that she was not there to oppose wind power, but to denounce a violation of human rights: “We cannot carry out the climate transition at the expense of the rights of indigenous peoples,” she said.

    Polling at its lowest level, the Norwegian government, led by the Labor Party, seems to be taking the campaign seriously. On Wednesday, Minister of Oil and Energy Terje Aasland, who was supposed to go to London with a delegation of business leaders led by the Crown Prince, canceled his trip.

    ‘We are exhausted’

    The day before, Aasland had come to meet the young Sámi staging the sit-in in front of his ministry’s door. He had been harshly rebuked by one of the movement’s spokespersons, the singer Ella Marie Haetta Isaksen. “We are exhausted, and I can’t stand [to see you] sitting there and [hear you] saying the same nonsense about us, which you have been doing for 505 days,” she said angrily.

    She was referring to the time that has passed since October 11, 2021, when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of two groups of reindeer herders who had been engaged in a legal battle for more than ten years against the Norwegian state-owned company Statnett. Statnett is responsible for the electricity transmission network, and the Fosen Vind DA consortium, 52.1% owned by the Norwegian state and the owner of one of the largest onshore wind power complexes in Europe.

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    Built on the Fosen peninsula in the west of the country, it consists of five wind farms, two of which have been installed on land where reindeer herders have grazed their flocks in winter for five centuries. Although the Sámi people protested against the construction of the 151 turbines, the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy turned a deaf ear, arguing in 2013 that “major benefits” from renewable energy production should “weigh heavily” against the damage to the herders.

    Work began in 2016. Eleven billion crowns (€992 million) were invested in the project, including 5.8 billion for the Storheia and Roan parks, completed in 2019 and 2020. But here’s the thing: on October 11, 2021, the 11 judges of the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the project was a violation of Article 27 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, adopted in 1966 by the UN and incorporated into Norwegian law. It states that “persons belonging to ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities may not be deprived of the right to enjoy their culture, practice their religion and use their language.

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