The Battle of the Sami People Against Norwegian Windmills

Date:

The Battle of the Sami People Against Norwegian Windmills

  • News by AUN News correspondent
  • Friday, March 10, 2023
  • AUN News – ISSN: 2949-8090

Summary:

  • In the Fosen peninsula, 530 kilometres north of Oslo, there are 151 wind turbines with more than 130 kilometres of connection roads and electricity lines.

  • “Oslo has reiterated that reindeer herding and the wind power project can coexist now.

  • All Around SápmiIn Chile and Norway, indigenous groups’ ancestral lands are pillaged without consent or consideration for their cultural reality.

  • Eva Mara Fjellheim, a Sami Council’s work team member and leading civil society group, has that opinion.

  • She asserts that indigenous peoples’ ancestry and traditional ways “should be considered part of the solution, not a hindrance.

In the Fosen peninsula, 530 kilometres north of Oslo, there are 151 wind turbines with more than 130 kilometres of connection roads and electricity lines. Both the proprietors of those territories since antiquity and the judges in Norway believe they should not be there.

Because the reindeer won’t go near the wind farms, several winter pasture sites are no longer usable. So, a vital ancestral migration path for us has been destroyed, claims Maria Puenchir, a well-known human rights activist in the area who identifies as “queer, Sami, and disabled,” in a phone interview with IPS. Puenchir is 31 years old.

The Sami, often called Lapps or Saami, live in a region they call Sápmi that straddles the northern borders of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia.

Puenchir talked from her hometown of Trondheim, a short distance from the peninsula where the wind complex is under investigation. Despite multiple requests for its postponement, including one from the United Nations, highlighting its possible impact on residents’ way of life, construction started in 2016.

The exhibit was deemed illegal and a violation of the rights of reindeer herders to preserve their culture by the Norwegian Supreme Court, comprised of eleven judges, in a unanimous decision made five years after it was finished.

Although the decision is clear, it does not specify what should be done with the wind turbines. In addition to not being destroyed, they are still in use, “Puenchir laments.

Amnesty International started a campaign on January 30 to demand that the court’s decision be upheld and that “a continual violation of human rights be stopped and corrected.”

On February 23, a group of young people donning traditional Sami garb decided to engage in combat with the Norwegian government. Police forced them out of the Ministry of Oil’s offices after they had been there for four days, but they could block numerous other ministries before a large sit-in in front of the Royal Palace on March 3.

“The idea resulted from a youth-led Instagram campaign in the Sami community. Since the Norwegian Supreme Court judgement, they started keeping track of the days without a single action being taken. They hit the streets when the account reached 500, Puenchir recalls.

Neither she nor Greta Thunberg hesitated to board a plane and travel to Oslo to join the group. This time, the well-known climate activist took part in a demonstration against a “green” energy project.

“I had the opportunity to visit and support this battle. People should assist local struggles like these if they have the chance, Thunberg told IPS over the phone from the streets of Oslo.

The activist began by claiming that “all across the world, we are seeing the continuance of land grabbing and exploitation of indigenous land, but we can also see that the resistance is continuing and rising.” “the end of Sápmi’s colonisation.”

Terje Aasland, Norway’s minister of oil and energy, apologised to the Sami on behalf of the country on March 2.

After meeting with Silje Karine Mutoka, the president of the Sámi Parliament, Aasland commented, “They have suffered a long period in a terrible and uncertain environment, and I feel sad for them.”

Oslo has reiterated that reindeer herding and the wind power project can coexist now. Yet no clear decision has been made about the complex infrastructure’s future.

Going south to north

The International Energy Agency reports that 98% of Norway’s electricity supply is derived from renewable sources. More energy is produced by the six wind farms in the Fosen complex than by all the wind farms constructed across the rest of the nation combined.

Although a multi-company corporation with Swiss and German participation created the Fosen turbines, Statkraft of Norway still owns 52% of the investment.

In response to inquiries from IPS, Statkraft emphasised that the Supreme Court decision “does not imply that the wind farm licences have expired, nor did it decide what should happen to the turbines.

The business continues, “The operation of the Fosen wind farm “may continue without causing irreparable harm to reindeer husbandry as long as a process is in place to specify the essential mitigation steps required for a fresh licencing decision that respects Sami rights.

The business is “actively striving to contribute to finding a solution that permits the Sami people to continue their traditional practice by international law.”

Statkraft describes itself as “Europe’s largest producer of renewable energy and a global company in energy market operations” on its website. Their data shows 5,300 workers across 21 nations.

Other continents have also lodged complaints and won court judgements against the massive Norwegian energy company.

A protest against the Los Lagos power plant project that Statkraft is developing on the banks of the Pilmaiken River, 370 kilometres south of Santiago de Chile, was forcefully suppressed by Chilean police on February 23.

It has a ceremonial structure and a cemetery, significant to the Mapuche people. The Pilmaiken river was thought to be the place where souls went after death to complete their cycle “A 35-year-old construction worker who participates in the Pilmaiken support network spoke with IPS on the phone.

All Around Sápmi

In Chile and Norway, indigenous groups’ ancestral lands are pillaged without consent or consideration for their cultural reality.

Eva Mara Fjellheim, a Sami Council’s work team member and leading civil society group, has that opinion. She phoned IPS from Tromso, which is 1,100 kilometres north of Oslo.

“The Sami Council supports initiatives to address the ecological and climate problem, but they must be carried out at the expense of fundamental rights,” says Fjellheim, 38.

She juggles her job for the council with her Doctoral study on “green colonialism” and Sami’s resistance to the construction of wind power on pasture lands at Norway’s Arctic University.

She asserts that indigenous peoples’ ancestry and traditional ways “should be seen as part of the solution and not as a hindrance.”

The researcher also notes that similar wind projects are being promoted across Sami area by Sweden, Finland, Russia, and Norway.

“But, their response to the Supreme Court’s decision in the Fosen case is the most recent evidence of the complete opposite, according to Fjellheim. The Nordic countries frequently defend their reputation as global leaders with respect for rights and sustainability.

“It’s as if human rights abuses never happened in a democratic welfare state like Norway, only in other places.”

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