• July 4, 2023

In 2015 when on behalf of Celtic League I turned down an invitation to visit Moscow for a conference I wrote to the conference organiser Alexander Viktorovitch Ionov President of the ‘Anti-globalization Movement of Russia’ saying:

“It is via both the United Nations and the OCSE that both the Russian Federation and Ukraine should look to resolve their current tensions and find lasting solutions” (See link below August 2015)

So that’s pretty unequivocal and you would think that the Celtic League were more than pleased that NATO was taking a firm line with Putin and supporting Ukraine.

Life however is never simple!

Recently two previously neutral States have applied to join NATO. Finland is now a member and Sweden awaits a block on its membership by Turkey being lifted. However Sweden and Finland had been cooperating with NATO before these latest moves. In Northern Sweden there is a major military exercise area which is used by NATO armed forces indeed as we speak exercises have been ongoing there.

The North East Aerospace Test Range (NEAT) covers a vast area of Sami land in the north of Sweden and it complements other areas in Finland and Norway used for military training, most of them on Sami land.

The Sami are a complex indigenous people that span, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. They have been persecuted particularly in the Nordic countries for centuries. In the early to late twentieth century they were the subject of eugenic experimentation, forced conversion to Christianity for which the Lutheran Church apolgised only recently and the attack on their language and culture by integration into the education system. Children were beaten for using their own language – sound familiar? In the 19th century some Sami were used as circus exhibits and even comparatively recently academics in Scandinavia have said they enjoyed or capitalised on the experience!

It is land though and today’s experiences which has most impacted these reindeer herding communities most. Countries such as Sweden have refused to grant them land rights on lands they have lived in for centuries. The situation is not much better in Norway and Finland. In Russia where the tiny Sami community has land rights the law sadly is not implemented in their favor in a country where law can be flexible.

Sticking with NATO it seems unconscionable that countries such as Sweden and Finland that make such a great play of joining NATO and defending democracy oppress an indigenous people. In Sweden’s case it also ignores criticism for the UN and its bodies and has failed to implement UN protocols which would defend this tiny group of oppressed indigenous people.

The Sami face multiple threats to their land and life. Military exercise grounds are one issue; commercial activity such as mining and logging is also carried on with impunity by the Nordic countries.

Voices are rightly raised against Russian aggression in Ukraine. I don’t hear a great deal of noise about the oppression against the Sami.

Link Celtic League:


Related links:

Sami Wki:


WRI: https://wri-irg.org/…/sweden-lends-uninhabitated-land…

Church apology:




Main image: NEAT training ground – Insert: Still from the film Sami Blood which detailed experimets on children based on eugenics and opened Sweden’s ‘colonial closet’.

Bernard Moffatt

AGS Celtic League (4th July 2023)

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