Greta Thunberg and Sami activists protest 'illegal' wind turbines in Norway


Published: 2023-02-28 12:18

Last Updated: 2023-09-27 19:20

Greta Thunberg and Sami activists protest 'illegal' wind turbines in Norway
Greta Thunberg and Sami activists protest 'illegal' wind turbines in Norway

Climate activist Greta Thunberg and dozens of Sami activists blocked the entrance to Norway's energy ministry Monday to protest against wind turbines still in place on reindeer herding land despite a court ruling.

"We can't use the so-called climate transition as a cover for colonialism," Thunberg told broadcaster TV2 as she blocked the doors of the ministry in Oslo.

"A climate transition that violates human rights is not a climate transition worthy of the name and we must therefore stand up against the human rights violations that are happening here," the Swedish climate activist said.

They are protesting against the continued operation of wind turbines in the Fosen region of western Norway, more than a year after a landmark ruling by the Norwegian Supreme Court.

The court found that the project violated the right of Sami families to practise their culture of reindeer husbandry.

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.

In their October 2021 verdict, the 11 judges of the country's highest court unanimously ruled that the expropriation and operating permits for the construction of the 151 turbines were invalid.

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

"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 Sami musician and activist, told TV2.

On the night between Sunday and Monday, Norwegian police forcibly removed a dozen activists who had been occupying the entrance hall of the ministry of oil and energy for several days.

Representatives of the indigenous Sami minority are demanding that the turbines be demolished.

The Norwegian authorities have so far held off taking actions and ordered further assessments.

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 said.

"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.

The building whose entrance was blocked Monday houses several ministries, leading to civil servants from six departments being asked to work from home.