- Protesters say they want to ‘shut down the state’
- Wind farms violate the rights of indigenous people, the Supreme Court ruled
- The energy minister says that it takes time to find a compromise
OSLO, Feb 28 (Reuters) – Indigenous and environmental activists, including Greta Thunberg, blocked access to several Norwegian ministries on Tuesday, expanding a protest to demand the removal of wind turbines from reindeer pastures.
Norway’s Supreme Court ruled in 2021 that two wind farms built at Fosen in central Norway violated Sami human rights according to international conventions, but the turbines are still in operation more than 16 months later.
Police began removing a handful of protesters outside the Ministry of Finance, a new target for protesters, while over a hundred protesters chanted “C, S, V”, the abbreviation for a 1970s Sami slogan meaning “Show Sami spirit”.
Meanwhile, campaigners pressed ahead with a demonstration at the nearby Ministry of Energy, which also houses the Ministry of Transport and Family, and at the Ministry of Agriculture.
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Thunberg, an advocate for ending the world’s reliance on carbon-based power, has said governments should not allow the transition to green energy to come at the expense of indigenous Sami rights.
– They should have seen it coming for violations of human rights, Thunberg told Reuters when she was asked about the need for the protests, while sitting outside the Ministry of Energy.
One campaigner said they would “shut down the state, ministry by ministry” for as long as necessary.
– The state has failed the Sami people, says Ella Marie Haetta Isaksen to Reuters.
“I hope some ministers will soon understand that the only way out of this human rights abuse is to demolish the city’s wind turbines.”
Reindeer herders say the wind power machinery scares animals and disturbs ancient traditions.
COMPLEX LEGAL ISSUE
The Ministry of Energy has said that the fate of the turbines is a complicated legal dilemma despite the Supreme Court ruling and hopes to find a compromise, but that it could take another year to get a new decision in the Fosen case.
“The key is to get a new decision that stands the test of time,” Energy Minister Terje Aasland told Reuters after meeting protesters outside his ministry.
“There are conflicts of interest and we have to deal with them as best we can,” he said. – We must try to include indigenous people’s human rights in a good way, not least ensuring that reindeer husbandry can have a secure future.
Owners of the farms Roan Vind and Fosen Vind include German Stadtwerke Muenchen, Norwegian utilities Statkraft and TroenderEnergi, as well as Swiss firms Energy Infrastructure Partners and BKW.
“We are seeking to find … mitigating measures in dialogue with the reindeer herders and the ministry that secure the operating basis and Sami opportunity for cultural expression,” Statkraft says in a message to Reuters.
Roan Vind told Reuters on Monday that it trusts that the Ministry of Energy will find solutions that allow the production of renewable energy to continue.
Utility BKW said it expected the wind turbines to remain in place, with compensatory measures to ensure the herdsmen’s rights.
Stadtwerke Muenchen declined to comment.
Written by Terje Solsvik; Editing by Andrew Heavens, Christina Fincher and Barbara Lewis
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