Norway: Respect the Rights of the Saami People amid the Green Transition
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The Indigenous Peoples Rights International (IPRI), the Right Energy Partnership with Indigenous Peoples (REP) and the undersigned organizations extend our strong solidarity with the Saami people and urgently appeal to the government of Norway to adhere to the decision of the Supreme Court regarding the violation of the rights of the Saami people in the establishment of the Fosen windmill park. This onshore wind farm, consisting of 151 turbines, was constructed and operated by Statkraft in the Saami territory, without their consent. The area is a winter grazing land, which ucial for the survival of the reindeer herds of the Saami People.
With the inaction by the Norwegian government and Statkraft – for more than 500 days after the court decision – the Saami youth started a peaceful gathering in front of the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy in Oslo on 28 February 2023, demanding the resolution of the unjust establishment of the windmill park in the Saami territory, as affirmed by the supreme court. However, members of the police with arms swooped down on the Saami youth in the middle of the night and physically dragged them. This overreaction by the police is uncalled for as Saami youth are simply exercising their right to peaceful assembly. In spite of the police response, the Saami youth continues their peaceful protest and are gaining public support.
At the outset, the Saami people expressed that they are not against the windmill park per se, but that they opposed this project even before construction started because of the anticipated adverse impacts on their reindeer herding. Moreover, there are other options to build the windmills outside the reindeer herding area. However, the government-owned company Statkraft and Fosenvind, proceeded with establishment and operation of the windmill park instead of waiting for the decision of the court on the case filed by the Saami people.
What this case demonstrates is that indigenous peoples continue to be disregarded in decision-making on matters that affect them. With the green transition being planned and implemented by world leaders as a climate change solution, Indigenous Peoples are being made to sacrifice again. This situation is replicated in indigenous territories across the world. We need to stop this and ensure that green transition, human rights and social equity go hand and hand.
We stand in solidarity with the Saami people in the exercise of their right to peaceful assembly, and the respect for their right to their culture, to their lands, territories and resources, and to self-determination.We commend the Saami youth for taking action to protect their culture and land. We support the demand of the Saami Parliament and the youth for the Norwegian government, Statkraft and Fosenvind to suspend the operation of the Fosen windmill park and engage with the Saami people to find a solution to the conflict, in line with the full respect and protection of their rights as indigenous peoples. We also demand the companies involved to assume responsibility for restoring the land. We expect the government of Norway to act now in line with their human rights obligations.