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Ellos vuotna- Let the fjord live!
How a group of activists are trying to stop a new copper mine in Norway
WE WILL BEAR WITNESS to our world. This media project collects stories from earth's citizens, recording climate destruction, devastation, resilience and hope.
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Let the fjord live!
Finnmark area, in the north of Norway, which is a part of the indigenous land of Sápmi, has been the scene of long struggles in the modern time, between development ideology and extraction nexus in one hand, and self determination and culture and nature conservation on the other hand. Alta conflict in 70s and 80s is a highlight point in this history where Norwegian government constructed a hydroelectric power plant in Alta-Kautokeino river; Sami people and environmental activists joined together for the first time and protested for a long time, but the power plant were constructed. The area has been continuously appropriated for other development projects afterwards. And now a copper mine is going to start its construction by Repparfjord and has plan to dump its waste into the fjord. The area is also used by Sami reindeer herders as their pasture. The project study phase started more than 10 years ago when nobody was talking about green transformation in Norway. It is just recently that green transformation has become a hot topic in Norway and the mining company is now marketing the copper as an essential metal for green shift technologies. So the reindeer herders and also the Sami Parliament are opposing the project as an example of Green Colonialism. Lots of environmental activists are also in solidarity with reindeer herders, fishermen and locals. Nature og Ungdom, the largest environmental youth organization in Norway are facilitating a protest camp throughout the summer 2021 by Repparfjord, near the place that the construction of the mine is planned. Many activists are staying in the camp and some of them have already participated in stopping the construction machines.
The camp is however more than just a place for protest and civil disobedience. Activists staying in the camp meet locals and hear their stories and struggles and learn their traditions and lifestyle. The camp is an arena for debates between advocates and critics of the mining. It is a place for concerts, arts, shared activities and experiencing a community life. Many of the activists are coming from cities, living an atomized urban lifestyle. Although some of the supply chain of the camp life is still coming from the conventional system, but living even temporary in this community with flat structure and voluntary non-profit exchanges gives a taste of how an alternative life would look like: a community where collaboration before competition, sharing before profit, common goal before individualism, learning from other cultures instead of dominating them, and caring for health of ecosystem instead of appropriating it are the core values.
This photo reportage is a visual story of the community life in the camp, and the protest to save the fjord and stop the green colonialism in the area.
Daily Life in the Camp
Since June 23 when the camp started, several hundreds of protesters had lived in the camp, but not at the same time. In some periods there have been fewer people, and in some periods, especially during the music festival, around 40 protesters were living in the camp. The camp life is coordinated in a flat structure, where responsibilities are assigned to the people on a daily basis in the morning general meeting.
Many of Mari’s songs are against discrimination and hate. “I became very angry to our repression, to the fact that we were told that there was something wrong with our language and our culture. And it resulted in a sort of a volcano, in an explosion of songs that just came to me.” She told in an interview about her famous album Gula Gula back in 1989.
So far the activists have stopped the construction machines from Nussir company for three times in July and August. Nussir company did not report the civil disobedience to the police in these three times. But later they got in contact with the police and they had a common meeting with the representatives from activists and warned that the next time Nussir company will report immediately to the police, and police from Hammerfest will arrest the activists. Police also explained the security concerns and routines with the activists. The activists aware of the fine of the civil disobedience, are still eager to stop the mining. So they are now waiting for the next time that the action begins and they confront the police and get arrested. They have set a guard lavvur near the entrance to the planned place for construction of mining. Always there are few activists stay in the guard 24/7, and they change the shift with others in the camp. There is also a new round of practicing civil disobedience for the newcomers to the camp who are eager to chain themselves and stop the construction machines.
Mohsen Aanvari is a self-taught outdoor and documentary photographer based in Norway. His work concerns the environmental crisis and social inequality, hence choosing photo stories which combine elements of environment, outdoor life and social justice. He continues his research into environmental justice through his photography and documentary work.
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