Activists, Indigenous Sami hold wind farm protest outside Norwegian PM office

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Dozen of activists, including Indigenous Sami, protested Friday outside the office of Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre, vowing to block entry to remind Norway’s government that they want a wind farm removed because they say it endangers the reindeer herders’ way of life.

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In February, the same human rights activists occupied the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy for four days, and later also blocked the entrances to 10 ministries. The Norwegian government then apologized for failing to act despite a Supreme Court ruling in favor of the Sami, and Gahr Støre also acknowledged “ongoing human rights violations.”

“We were promised a change. We were promised that our human rights would be respected. Yet nothing has happened for almost 100 days” since Gahr Støre said the government would do something, activist Elle Nystad told Norwegian news agency NTB on Friday.

“We will not give up until the wind turbines on Fosen are demolished and the land is returned to reindeer herders,” said another activist, Elle Ravdna Nakkalajarvi.

The activists plan to sleep outside the prime minister’s office until Saturday - the 600th day since a Supreme Court ruling said the wind farm was violating the rights of the Sami. They said they had brought chains to link themselves.

At the center of the dispute are 151 turbines at Europe’s largest onshore wind farm in the Fosen district, about 450 kilometers (280 miles) north of Oslo. Norway’s Supreme Court ruled in October 2021 that the construction of the turbines had violated the rights of the Sami, who have used the land for reindeer for centuries.

The wind turbines are still operating. The activists say a transition to green energy shouldn’t come at the expense of the rights of Indigenous people.

Some were seen sitting in front of the gate to the prime minister’s office, and activists put up tents used by the Indigenous people, who mostly live in the Arctic, in a nearby park.

The activists, many dressed in traditional Sami garments, had started the day by standing along the road leading up to the Norwegian royal palace as dark cars though to be carrying members of the government drove past to the royal palace.

The government officials were attending a regular briefing of the Norwegian monarch, which is a formality. After the Council of State meeting, Gahr Støre met with some of the activists and told them “I want to tell you that the matter is not at rest.”

As they marched through downtown Oslo to the building housing the prime minister’s office, some demonstrators waved the Sami flag, while others held banners - one of them reading “Respect existence or expect resistance.”

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