Norway’s energy minister cancelled a trip to Britain on Wednesday because of a protest against a wind farm that campaigners say hinders the rights of the Sami indigenous people to raise reindeer in Arctic Norway.
The activists, mainly teenagers, have been blocking the entrance to several ministries in the Norwegian capital since Monday.
They are protesting against a wind farm that’s still operating despite a ruling by Norway’s Supreme Court in October 2021 that the construction of the wind turbines violated the rights of the Sami, who have been using the land for reindeer for centuries.
Activist Ella Marie Hætta Isaksen told Norwegian broadcaster NRK that they were “escalating another couple of notches. We have said we will shut down the state of Norway, department by department”.
Some of them chanted “let the mountains live”, the Norwegian news agency NTB said.
Oil and energy minister Terje Aasland “has chosen to reprioritise his calendar and will therefore not travel to the UK as planned”, his office said.
He was due to take part in a two-day visit starting on Wednesday with the Norwegian crown prince and his wife. The ministry said that Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt will replace him.
On Tuesday, Mr Aasland spoke to the activists, some of whom donned the Sami’s traditional bright-coloured dress, saying the government will make a “new decision” on the wind farm, but he could not give any specifics “until we have a sufficient knowledge basis for it”.
That infuriated the activists who said in a statement that “our will to fight is only growing after Terje Aasland’s visit with the same empty words as always”.
The activists have been protesting outside the Energy Ministry since Thursday. They began blocking the entrances to other ministries on Tuesday.
In a letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Jose Francisco Cali Tzay, of the Sami Parliament of Norway urged the UN body to “consider communicating with the Norwegian authorities”, NRK reported.
In the letter, its speaker Silje Karine Mutoka said “the windmills must be demolished, and the area returned”.
The 39-seat Sametinget is a representative body in Norway for people of the Sami who live in Lapland, which stretches from northern parts of Norway through Sweden and Finland to Russia.