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Greta Thunberg protests illegal wind turbines in Norway

Swedish climate campaigner Greta Thunberg on Thursday joined indigenous Sami activists protesting in Oslo against wind turbines still operating on reindeer herding land two years after a court ruled them illegal.

On October 11, 2021, Norway’s Supreme Court found that two wind farms in the Fosen region of western Norway — on land used by Sami reindeer herders — violated the rights of the indigenous people, guaranteed by the UN, to practise their culture of reindeer husbandry.

Two years later, the 151 turbines are still operating.

To mark the anniversary on Wednesday, dozens of environment activists and Samis began a series of protests in the Norwegian capital expected to last several days, demanding the demolition of the turbines.

On Thursday, Thunberg joined the activists to block the entrance to the headquarters of state-owned energy group Statkraft, which operates 80 of the 151 turbines in Fosen.

“It’s important to show solidarity when human rights violations are taking place especially in Scandinavia against the Sami people,” Thunberg told AFP on Wednesday.

She was speaking just after a court in the southern Swedish town of Malmo had fined her for public disobedience at a July 24th protest in Malmo.

“All of us who can be there and show our support should,” she said.

On Thursday, she sat on the ground next to activists clad in traditional Sami clothing at the foot of a lavvu, a Sami tent erected outside the Statkraft entrance.

Thunberg had already taken part in a demonstration in February to mark the 500th day since the Supreme Court ruling.

“Greta Thunberg is an important ally supporting our cause,” Sami activist and artist Ella Marie Haetta Isaksen said.

– Demolition ‘excluded’ –

While the Supreme Court found that the expropriation and operating permits for the construction of the turbines were invalid, it gave no guidance on what should be done with the turbines, which were already in operation.

Norway’s government has apologised to Sami reindeer herding families and recognised that their human rights have been violated.

It has launched a mediation process to try to find a solution enabling both the herders and wind farms to continue their activities.

Petroleum and Energy Minister Terje Aasland said Wednesday “the destruction of all wind turbines was excluded” and “not a likely outcome of either a decision-making process or a mediation process.”

The outcome could set a precedent for other infrastructure projects on the vast lands traditionally used by the Sami across Norway.

An indigenous minority of around 100,000 people spread over the northern parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia, the Sami have traditionally lived off reindeer herding and fishing.

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