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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Sweden. The Sámi have sued the state, demanding the right to their land

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Representatives of the Sámi file a lawsuit in a court in Stockholm regarding granting them the right to dispose of land in northern Sweden. The politicians forming the current government oppose the committee's conclusions – they are afraid of further demands from the Sámi.

Sámi from four villages covering hundreds of square kilometers of valuable natural areas in the north Swedenfiled a lawsuit against the Swedish state in court on Tuesday.

– We can't wait any longer. This is our right, these are human rights – argued the chairman of the National Association of Swedish Sami (SSR), Matti Blind Berg.

The Sámi demand the right to decide about hunting and fishing. This involves, among others, with granting permits and collecting fees. Tourism is also developing in these areas.

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During a press conference in Stockholm on Tuesday, representatives of the Sami villages of Ran, Sirges, Unna Tjerusj and Baste, dressed in their traditional costumes, signed the legal powers of attorney necessary to file the lawsuit.

The Sámi sued SwedenV. Belov/Shutterstock

The Sami cite precedent

In Sweden, the term Sámi village means an area (belt) in the Scandinavian Mountains from the border with Norway to the valley on the Gulf of Bothnia, where the local community has the right to graze reindeer. In such an area, Sámi families cooperate with each other.

The lawyer Peter Danowsky, representing the applicants, recalled that there is already a precedent in the form of the judgment of the Swedish Supreme Court, which in January 2020 granted the community of the village of Girjas the right to manage hunting in their areas.

The previous government then established a committee that recommended that the authorities adapt the regulations so that other Sámi people could obtain similar rights. However, nothing has been done about this so far.

The center-right Moderate Coalition Party and Christian Democrats, as well as the far-right Sweden Democrats, which form the current government, opposed the committee's conclusions. Politicians fear further demands from the Sámi.

The head of the Sámi organization does not rule it out in the event of victory. Matti Blind Berg admitted that the Sámi should also have the right to decide on the exploitation of their areas, e.g. in the case of mines. – However, it's not about the money – noted Berg. He expressed regret that Sweden's image as a country that cares about human rights is much better abroad than it actually is.

The Sámi meeting in Stockholm was very emotional. Senior village representatives cried as they recalled the wrongs the state had done to them over the years. The Sámi were displaced, their children were taken away and they were forced to learn Swedish. Hydroelectric power plants and other industrial plants were built in their areas, thanks to which Sweden built its wealth.

The areas of northern Sweden are extremely valuable due to the presence of rare earth elements there, especially in the context of the upcoming green transformation in transport and energy.

Main photo source: V. Belov/Shutterstock

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