Sami activist protests in front of Norwegian parliament over wind turbines

Part of Europe’s biggest wind turbine farm was built on land traditionally used by the Indigenous Sami community to herd reindeer.

Indigenous Sami activist Mihkkal Haetta
Indigenous Sami activist Mihkkal Haetta, 22, poses for a picture in front of his lavvu, a Sami tent, erected in protest outside the Norwegian parliament, in Oslo, Norway [Gwladys Fouche/Reuters]

An Indigenous Sami activist has set up camp outside the Norwegian parliament to protest against wind turbines built on land traditionally used by Sami reindeer herders.

In October 2021, Norway’s Supreme Court ruled that two wind farms built at Fosen in central Norway, part of Europe’s most significant onshore wind farm, violated Sami rights under international conventions.

However, the turbines still remain operational.

Sami activist Mihkkal Haetta told the Reuters news agency, “It has been 700 days of human rights abuse, and the Norwegian state has not done anything to stop it. So I have chosen to come here and set up camp until the human rights abuse stops.”

“I believe that there is only one solution, and that is to tear down the wind turbines at Fosen.”

Fosen is one of the many cases that Norway has yet to resolve with climate change and technology enabling mineral extraction, energy production and tourism while threatening traditional ways of life.

The government has said that the Supreme Court, while ruling that the licences of the two farms were illegal, did not give instructions on what to do next and that the conflict should be resolved through talks.

Indigenous Sami activists
Indigenous Sami activists set up a lavvu, a Sami tent, outside the Norwegian parliament or Storting in protest against two wind farms built on Sami reindeer pastures, in Oslo, Norway [Gwladys Fouche/Reuters]

In February, Indigenous protesters, including Haetta, occupied entrances of 10 ministries, joined by climate activist Greta Thunberg, who said human rights had to go hand in hand with climate protection and action.

Since the protests, the government and reindeer-herding families affected by the wind farm have been involved in mediation to resolve the conflict. Still, no concrete measures have been announced yet.

The herders have said that the only resolution to the dispute is tearing down the wind turbines.

Oil and Energy Minister Terje Aasland told the Reuters news agency, “We still hope that the mediation process will be able to lead to an amicable solution to the matter. It would be the best for all parties.”

“It is too early to say anything concrete about when a solution might be in place, but I am focused that the mediation track can be followed as long as there is hope for a solution.”

When asked about Haetta’s protest, Aasland said, “The right to free expression is a founding democratic right I have great respect for.”

Source: Reuters