The Swedish Presidency opened up with a EU-leaders’ meeting in Giron – Kiruna – in the territory of the Sami indigenous people this week. A state-owned company, LKAB, is systematically making Sami culture invisible, diminished and displaced.
The Swedish state, the 100 % owner of LKAB, has the intention to open a new mine. This will split a traditional area for Sami reindeer herding in Kiruna into two disconnected areas and the Sami´s right to exercise its culture will be ruled out. The pretext is conversion to the “green” economy and geopolitics.
The Sami people and culture seems to be of no importance to Sweden and EU.
For more than 100 years this area has been heavily exploited by the mining industry. The Sami people has gradually been forced out of their land and places of residence, and traditional reindeer trails can no longer be used. The constantly expanding LKAB mining activities and transports of ore take place at the expense of Sami culture.
The reindeer herding is now facing a risk of collapse and the remaining reindeers will no longer be able to roam and graze freely like they always have done. This means that reindeer herding as a basis of Sami culture is threatened. A further expanding mining activity will make it even more difficult to exercise reindeer herding and will cut off the last reindeer trail passing Kiruna. This will violate the Sami rights to exercise its culture in this region.
Once again we, the Sami, will be forced, by a company owned by the Swedish state, to give up land, culture, Sami place names, traditions and future in the area where our ancestors have lived since ancient times.
The Sami, the only recognised indigenous people in the European Union, is expected to carry the burden of the demand for ”green minerals” by EU politicians and industry.
The only EU indigenous people will be scarified to reduce today’s dependence of minerals from China and Russia.
Will Sweden, a country internationally known for standing up to human rights, be willing to violate Sami human rights as an indigenous people and sacrifice Sami childrens’ right to their culture in the future?
Karin Kvarfordt Niia, Gabna sameby (reindeer herding community) tel. +46 730 42 89 39
Matti Blind Berg, Svenska Samernas Riksförbund tel. +46 70 397 69 77
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