Protesters block Norway’s energy ministry over wind farms on Indigenous land
"Indigenous rights, human rights, must go hand-in-hand with climate protection and climate action."
"Indigenous rights, human rights, must go hand-in-hand with climate protection and climate action. That can't happen at the expense of some people. Then it is not climate justice," Greta Thunberg told Reuters outside of Norway's energy ministry, which she and dozens of other climate activists were blocking in protest.
The demonstrators chained themselves to one another by the ministry's main entrance. They're protesting two wind farms in central Norway. Back in 2021, Norway's supreme court ruled that these farms violated Indigenous Sami rights, which are protected by international conventions. The wind farms make it impossible for the Sami to herd reindeer in the Arctic region, an ancient cultural tradition. But the wind farms are still operating.
Even though Thunberg and other protesters support the transition to clean energy, they also don't want this transition to come at the cost of marginalized peoples. And this wind farm issue could set a dangerous precedent. The activists, mostly younger people, hold Sami flags and have a poster reading "Land Back."
"We are here to demand that the turbines must be torn down and that legal rights must be respected," said Sami singer-songwriter, actress and activist Ella Marie Haetta Isaksen.
Protesters occupied the ministry lobby inside over the weekend before being kicked out on Monday. So now, they've chained themselves up outside. By chaining themselves to one another, it's more difficult for authorities to move them.
"We understand that this case is a burden for the reindeer herders," Minister of Energy and Petroleum Terje Aasland said in a statement to Reuters. "The ministry will do what it can to contribute to resolving this case and that it will not take longer than necessary."
Wind farm owner Utility BKW said that it expects this dispute to be solved with the wind turbines staying where they are and continuing to be operated, but also for the Sami people to receive some sort of compensation so that their rights are still guaranteed.