The protests forced Norway’s energy minister to cancel a trip to the UK

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Norway’s energy minister canceled a trip to the United Kingdom Wednesday because of a protest against a wind farm that activists say interferes with the rights of the indigenous Sami people who herd reindeer in the Norwegian Arctic.

Activists, mainly young people, have been blocking entry to several ministries in the Norwegian capital since Monday. In October 2021, Norway’s Supreme Court ruled that the construction of the wind turbines violated the rights of the Sami people, who have used the land for reindeer herding for centuries, to protest against the wind farm, which is still operating.

Activist Ella Marie Hedda Isaksen told Norwegian broadcaster NRK that they are “taking it up a notch again. We said we will shut down the Norwegian government, sector by sector.”

Using a megaphone, Hedda Isaksen later told cheering activists on Wednesday, “We continue the siege. »

“The energy crisis cannot be solved by ignoring the rights of indigenous peoples,” he said.

A dozen activists, including Swedish environmentalist Greta Thunberg, were forcibly removed from the finance ministry on Wednesday. Some of them chanted “Let the mountains live,” Norwegian news agency NTB reported.

Oil and Energy Minister Terje Ösland “has chosen to redefine his agenda and will therefore not be visiting the UK as planned”, his office said.

He was due to join Norway’s crown prince and his wife on a two-day visit starting Wednesday. He will be replaced by Foreign Minister Annika Hudfeldt, the ministry said.

“I would say that it is unfortunate that we have come to the point where we have a tribe that feels their rights have been violated,” Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gar Stort told NTB.

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On Tuesday, Ausland spoke to activists, some of whom wore the brightly colored traditional clothes of the Sami, and said the government would make a “new decision” on the wind farm, but “can’t give any details until we have enough knowledge base. »

This enraged activists, “Our will to fight will only grow after the arrival of Terje Ausland with empty words as usual. »

Activists have been protesting outside the Energy Ministry since Thursday. They started blocking the entrances of other departments on Tuesday.

In a letter to UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, José Francisco Kali Tse, Norway’s Sami Parliament asked the UN to “consider contacting the Norwegian authorities. asked the organization. »

In a letter published on Parliament’s website, its speaker, Silje Karine Mutoka, said, “The wind turbines must be demolished and the area reclaimed for reindeer grazing. »

He is due to meet with Oslo on Thursday to discuss the wind farm.

The 39-seat Sametinget is the representative body in Norway for the Sami people who live in Lapland, which stretches from northern Norway through Sweden and Finland to Russia.

They once faced oppression from their culture, including being forbidden to use their own language. Today, these nomadic people mostly lead modern lifestyles, but still herd reindeer.

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