Greta Thunberg detained by Norway police during pro-Sami protest

March 2, 2023 - 9:26 AM
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Greta Thunberg is carried away by police officers as activits demonstrate outside the Ministry of Finance entrance and several other ministries in protest against the Fosen wind turbines not being demolished, which was built on land traditionally used by indigenous Sami reindeer herders, in Oslo, Norway, March 1, 2023. (Alf Simensen/NTB/via Reuters)
  • Campaigners demand removal of 2 wind farms
  • Protests have blocked ministries
  • Wind farms violate Indigenous rights, supreme court ruled
  • Energy minister says needs time to find compromise

Environmental campaigner Greta Thunberg was twice detained during a demonstration in support of Indigenous rights in Oslo on Wednesday, with police removing her and other activists from the finance ministry and later the environment ministry.

Thunberg had on Monday joined protesters demanding the removal of 151 wind turbines from reindeer pastures used by Sami herders in central Norway. They say a transition to green energy should not come at the expense of Indigenous rights.

The demonstrators have in recent days blocked access to some government buildings, putting the center-left minority government in a crisis mode and prompting Energy Minister Terje Aasland to call off an official visit to Britain.

Norway’s supreme court ruled in 2021 that the turbines, erected on two wind farms at Fosen and part of Europe’s largest onshore wind power complex, violated Sami rights under international conventions, but they remain in operation more than 16 months later.

Thunberg, holding a red, blue, yellow and green Sami flag, was lifted and carried away by police officers from the finance ministry while hundreds of demonstrators chanted slogans.

“We want to make it very clear that it is the Norwegian state that is committing the real crime here, for violating human rights,” she told Reuters minutes before she was removed.

Thunberg and other demonstrators later blocked the entrance to the climate and environment ministry and were again removed by police.

The Swedish activist, for many a global standard-bearer of the campaign to end the world’s reliance on carbon-based energy, was released along with other protesters who had also been detained.

Reindeer herders say the sight and sound of the giant wind power machinery frighten their animals and disrupt age-old traditions.

The president of Norway’s Sami parliament, an elected consultative body, will meet with the energy minister on Thursday and demand an apology before discussing a solution, she told Reuters.

“We need the government to clearly acknowledge that there is a violation of human rights, and then act accordingly and honour the matter with the seriousness it deserves,” Silje Karine Mutoka said.

The energy ministry has said the turbines present a legal quandary despite the supreme court ruling and is hoping to find a compromise, but that it could take another year to make a new decision in the Fosen case.

Activists on Tuesday said they had raised close to $100,000 in recent days to help individual demonstrators pay police fines.

—Additional reporting by Nora Buli, writing by Terje Solsvik; Editing by Nora Buli, John Stonestreet and Tomasz Janowski