Copenhagen, Denmark — Dozens of activists, including Greta Thunberg of neighboring Sweden, blocked the entrance to Norway's energy ministry in Oslo Monday to protest a wind farm they say hinders the rights of the Sami Indigenous people to raise reindeer in Arctic Norway. The activists, mainly teenagers, lay outside the ministry entrance holding Sami flags and a poster reading "Land Back."
The protesters from organizations called Young Friends of The Earth Norway and the Norwegian Sami Association's youth council NSR-Nuorat, said "the ongoing human rights violations" against Sami reindeer herders "must come to an end." Several of the activists donned the Sami's traditional bright-colored dress and put up a tent used by the Arctic people.
In October 2021, Norway's Supreme Court ruled that the construction of the wind turbines violated the rights of the Sami, who have been using the land to raise reindeer for centuries. However, the wind farm is still operating.
"It is absurd that the Norwegian government has chosen to ignore the ruling," said Thunberg, who joined the protest early Monday.
Over the weekend, the protesters had occupied the ministry's lobby but were evicted by police early Monday, according to Norwegian broadcaster NRK. They shifted their protest to chaining themselves outside the main entrance to the ministry, prompting authorities to urge employees to work from home.
By chaining themselves, "we make it practically more difficult to move us," activist Ella Marie Hætta Isaksen told NRK.
Norway's Energy Minister Terje Aasland told NRK that although the Supreme Court has ruled that the construction of the wind farm is invalid, the court does not say anything about what should happen to it.
The government must "make new decisions that are in line with the premise of the Supreme Court's judgment," Aasland told the broadcaster.
Other activists who were sitting outside the doors of nearby government buildings "have been ordered to move and if they don't we will remove them by force," said police spokesman Brian Skotnes shortly before officers were seen carrying activists away. They were not arrested.
The Sami live in Lapland, which stretches from northern parts of Norway through Sweden and Finland to Russia. They once faced oppression of their culture, including bans on the use of their native tongue.
Today the nomadic people live mostly modern lifestyles but still tend reindeer.
As CBS News correspondent Mark Phillips reported several years ago, in a cruel irony, the climate change that wind farms are aimed at easing by shifting to green energy is actually making the Samis' centuries-old tradition of animal husbandry more difficult.
Warmer average temperatures have meant less snow and more ice in the region over the last decade or so, one Sami herder told Phillips, and reindeer cannot forage for their preferred food, lichen, through ice.