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Colonialism and Indigenous Resistance in Swedish Sábme – An Update

Over the last couple of months people from all over Saepmie and beyond have come together to, loudly and clearly, demonstrate against the ongoing mining boom on our traditional lands, currently colonised by the Swedish state.

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[image: The Swedish Saami Parliament President at Camp Gállok]

In short, the problem could be summed up as follows: For a long time, foreign mining companies have been granted prospecting and mining rights all over Saepmie by a government that is quite literally giving away the land we stand on for nothing. Mining companies that do open mines pay next to nothing in fees – corporations with head offices abroad do not pay taxes in Sweden, and the only fee charged is a mineral fee of a measly 0.5‰ of their total incomes – and as if that wasn’t enough, the work force in the mines is more often than not brought in from outside the local communities that have their homelands destroyed by the mines in question. As we speak, more than 20 mines are being planned all over Saepmie, and several of the planned mines are supposed to be built next to rivers from which most settlements and cities in Saepmie get their drinking water. If tailings from the mines end up in the water, all communities down-stream from the mines will suffer the consequences, i.e. undrinkable water, a dead eco-system, the end of life as we know it. Some recent research even suggests that if any of the planned tailing dams that have to be built next to the proposed mine in Gállok would break apart as an effect of repetitive rock blasting nearby, cities and villages along the Lule River would get flooded, and – worst case scenario -the main city of Luleå would end up under 1-2 metres of water.

The British mining company Beowulf Mining – famous for their pompous wanker CEO who claimed that the areas affected by their planned mines lacked local people despite the fact that people have lived there for an estimated 8-10,000 years – is currently focusing most of their energy on the planned mine in Gállok outside of Jåhkkåmåhkke. Prospecting has begun, but rather than being  something that has been accepted as a defeat, people from all over Saepmie have set up a camp in the area, called Camp Gállok, where people have come together to block the entrance to the prospecting area.

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[the blocked entrance at Gállok]

The resistance is peaceful but effective; and the longer it goes on, the more exposure it is bound to get in national media. The longer it goes on, the more racism those who support it will experience. But despite the fact that our protests are starting to get us headlines outside of Sápmi – or Sábme, to use the Lule Saami name – people never get to hear about the awful people that are doing the best to silence us. For now the people who camp outside of the entrance to the Gállok prospecting area are seen as little more than naïve but cute hippies by the public and eventually “we” are all supposed to forget about them.

What we’re not told about are the racist attacks by men and women who do their best to get rid of the protest because they’ve swallowed the lies that mines bring wealth, eternal jobs and joy.

Over the last two nights, Camp Gállok has been attacked by a gang of local men with axes who have threatened the campers and called them racist names in an attempt to make a non-violent resistance movement leave. Perhaps worst of it all; two women who were sleeping in one tent yesterday were pulled out of it by a group of men and then showered with racist insults.

I mean the fuck? People showing up brandishing axes and then pulling women out of tents to threaten them because they dare to protest the destruction of their ancestral homelands?

And let’s not forget that this is not a thing of the past, on the contrary this is happening today. Racism against Saami people is on the raise and colonialism, far from being a thing of the past, is alive and kicking in Sweden and our continuous resistance is repeatedly met with violence and hatred.

There is no such thing as neo-colonialism here, colonialism has never stopped, it is a still on-going process in Saepmie.

The Swedish government, while it apologised for the atrocities it committed against the Saami throughout history back in 1998, refuses to sign ILO169 or any other convention that would protect our Saami land rights, thus making their apology completely useless. Over the last hundred years, the government has made countless laws stripping us of our rights – the stealing of tax mountains from the South Saami and the forced removal of North Saami to Lule and South Saami areas being just two examples of this.

But we did not give up back then, and we will not give up now when the attacks on our lands are renewed by foreign corporations and the Swedish government alike.

Our lands are not for sale, they never were and they never will be.

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