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The Norwegian government is forcing Sámi reindeer herders to abandon their culture. Help them fight back!
The Norwegian government is imposing forced slaughter of the reindeer that are the livelihood of the Sámi people. A young Sámi reindeer herder, Jovsset Ante Sara (25), is taking the Norwegian government to an international court of human rights to protect his reindeer and the rights of the Sámi reindeer herders. His options are either the European Court of Human Rights or the UN Human Rights Committee. Jovsset Ánte Sara is fighting against the implementation of a forced reindeer slaughter policy that will drive him and other young reindeer herders out of business, depriving them of their livelihood and thereby their culture and inherited rights.
About the case: The state demands that Jovsset Ante slaughter his herd so that only 75 reindeer remain. This means bankruptcy and the loss of his livelihood, culture, and rights. Jovsset Ante Sara won the first trial in the District Court in March 2016 , where the verdict stated that the government’s forced culling of reindeer violates his property rights, protected by international conventions on human rights. The Norwegian government appealed the verdict, but Jovsset Ante Sara won again. The Court of Appeal stated additionally that the imposed forced slaughter violates his indigenous rights protected by Article 27 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights , meaning this is a violation of his rights to practice his culture. The Norwegian government appealed again and The Norwegian Supreme Court decided in favor of the Norwegian government in December 2017.
See “the most beautiful adventure of Spring”, a documentary about Sámi reindeer migration, in which Norwegian Broadcasting followed Jovsset Ante and his herding community partners during the migration from the winter to the summer grazing grounds
The young Sámi reindeer herder now has two options: to slaughter his herd and walk away from his rights, culture and traditional way of life, or to appeal the case to an international court.
This case impacts many reindeer herders, especially those with the smallest herds, and the youngest generation of reindeer herders who represent the future of Sámi reindeer herding. The case sets a dangerous precedent in terms of indigenous rights in Norway and the rights of reindeer herders in particular.
Why the state-sanctioned culling of reindeer?
The Norwegian government claims that the reindeer are destroying the tundra. The forced reduction of reindeer is supposedly called for to protect the land for future reindeer herding – but at the same time, the government is expropriating the very pastures they claim to protect from overgrazing in order to make way for mining and industrial development projects. From the Sámi perspective , the state’s argument that they are protecting the land for future Sámi reindeer herding is inconsistent with national industrial plans for the Sámi region, the ongoing expropriation of land for industrial purposes, and the methodical intimidation of young reindeer herders who are essential if the traditional way of life is to continue. Scientists in recent studies have stated that the biggest threat to Sámi reindeer herding today comes from the Norwegian state.
How can you help? Help protect Jovsset Ante and the rights of Sámi reindeer herders and the Sámi community in Norway.
Your contribution will help Jovsset Ante bring his case before an international court of human rights. All funds raised will be donated to Jovsset Ante Sara so that he can bring his case forward, and also to the Pile o’Sápmi art project directed by Jovsset Ante’s sister. Pile o’Sápmi is run by Maret Anne Sara and uses art and information to raise awareness and promote debate about the case.
Video with footage from Jovsset Ante Sara’s court appearances
Máret Ánne Sara’s statement at the 2017 Creative Time Summit
NY Times coverage of case in Norwegian Supreme Court
Pile o’Sápmi facebook page
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