Indigenous and environmental activists, including Greta Thunberg, blocked access to several Norwegian government ministries on Tuesday, expanding a protest demanding the removal of wind turbines from reindeer pastures.
Norway’s supreme court in 2021 ruled that two wind farms built at Fosen in central Norway violated Sami human rights under international conventions, but the turbines remain in operation more than 16 months later.
Police began removing a handful of demonstrators from outside the building housing most of the finance ministry – a new target for demonstrators – while over a hundred demonstrators chanted “C, S, V”, the abbreviation of a 1970s Sami slogan meaning “Show Sami spirit”.
The removals took place on Supreme Court Square, across the street from the court that ruled in favour of reindeer herders in the Fosen case.
Meanwhile, campaigners pressed on with a demonstration at the nearby energy ministry, which also houses the transport and family ministries and parts of the finance ministry.
Thunberg, an advocate for ending the world’s reliance on carbon-based power, has argued that governments should not allow a transition to green energy to come at the expense of Indigenous Sami rights.
“They should have seen it coming for violating human rights,” Thunberg told Reuters when asked about the need for the protests, while she was sitting outside the energy ministry.
One of the campaigners said they would “close down the state, ministry by ministry” for as long as necessary.
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“The state has let the Sami people down,” Ella Marie Haetta Isaksen told Reuters.
“I hope some ministers will soon understand that the only way out of this human rights violation is to tear town the wind turbines.”
The finance ministry said it had asked staff to work from home if they are able.
Reindeer herders in the Nordic country say the sight and sound of the giant wind power machinery frighten their animals and disrupt age-old traditions.
The energy ministry has said the fate of the wind farms is a complex legal quandary despite the supreme court ruling and is hoping to find a compromise.
Owners of the Roan Vind and Fosen Vind farms include Germany’s Stadtwerke Muenchen, Norwegian utilities Statkraft and TroenderEnergi, as well as Swiss firms Energy Infrastructure Partners and BKW.
“We seek to find … mitigation measures in dialogue with the reindeer herders and the ministry that ensure the operating basis and the Sami opportunity for cultural expression,” Statkraft said in a statement to Reuters.
Roan Vind on Monday told Reuters it trusted the energy ministry would find solutions allowing production of renewable energy to continue.
Utility BKW said it expected the wind turbines to remain in place, with compensatory measures to ensure the rights of the herders.
Stadtwerke Muenchen declined to comment.