COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Police on Thursday removed activists from the entrance to two Norwegian government offices as campaigners continued their protest against a wind farm that they say hinders the rights of the Sami Indigenous people to raise reindeer in central and Arctic Norway.
The activists, mainly teenagers, began their protest a week ago and have been blocking the entrance to several ministries in the Norwegian capital since Monday.
They say that a wind farm is still operating despite a ruling by Norway’s Supreme Court in October 2021 that said that the construction of the wind turbines violated the rights of the Sami, who have been using the land for reindeer for centuries.
Several of the activists, some of whom donned the traditional bright-colored dress, are Indigenous people, who traditionally live in Lapland, which stretches from northern parts of Norway through Sweden and Finland to Russia.
Formerly known as the Lapps, the Sami are believed to have originated in Central Asia and settled with their reindeer herds in Arctic Europe around 9,000 years ago.
International organizations recognize the Sami as Europe’s only Indigenous people because of their unique cultural roots that predate the creation of nation states.
Across the Arctic region, the majority live on the Norwegian side of the border — there are between 40,000 and 60,000 Sami in central and northern Norway.
They once faced oppression of their culture, including bans on the use of their native tongue. Now they have their own parliaments, schools, newspapers and broadcasts in their own language on national radio and television. The nomadic people live mostly modern lifestyles, but still tend reindeer.
In Oslo, activists were carried away by police from the finance and culture ministries, while others sang a Sami chant. Police told Norwegian broadcaster NRK that the activists who were taken away will be fined. No details on the size of the fines were given.
At the center of the dispute are 151 windmills in Europe's largest onshore wind farm, located in the Fosen district, some 450 kilometers (280 miles) north of Oslo. The activists say that a transition to green energy should not come at the expense of the rights of Indigenous people.
After the Supreme Court ruling, the Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy asked the owners of the two wind farms to establish whether measures could be taken to ensure reindeer herding near the turbines. But the Sami have refuse to take part in such a process.
The speaker of the 39-seat Sami Parliament, Silje Karine Mutoka, was set to meet with Oil and Energy Minister Terje Aasland later Thursday to discuss the issue.