SEE THE VIDEO: Protests in Norway against construction of the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline in the US have not subsided. Scores of protesters gathered in front of the Norwegian Parliament Thursday evening, shortly after Greenpeace Norway presented a demand backed by 420 organizations in 50 countries that Norway’s biggest bank and many others immediately suspend funding for the project.
The pipeline has set off waves of global protests because it’s planned to run through sacred burial grounds of the indigenous Sioux nation and threatens to contaminate their water supply. Norway’s own indigenous Sami joined the protests late last summer, as did many other Norwegians after the financial involvement of state-controlled bank DNB, several other Norwegian banks and insurance firms and Norway’s huge sovereign wealth fund generated headlines nationwide.
Since then, DNB has also been faced with angry customers and its investment funds have sold off pipeline stakes. Greenpeace notes that the bank, in which the Norwegian state owns a 34 percent stake, has invested NOK 4.5 billion in the Dakota Access Pipeline, equal to nearly 15 percent of the project costs.
Greenpeace was among the organizations presenting protest letters this week to DNB and the other 16 banks that have provided financing for the pipeline project. They’re demanding that all further loan disbursements be frozen and that all construction work on the pipeline and associated infrastructure be halted until the pipeline’s problems with the Standing Rock Sioux nation are solved.
If no agreement is reached between the Sioux and the pipeline developers, the organizations and other protesters demand that DNB withdraw entirely from its lending agreement with Dakota Access. The bank was also urged to publicly address how it will handle the challenges it now faces.
To read the letter itself, and see the full list of organizations behind it, click here (external link).
Both Norway’s sovereign wealth fund known as the Oil Fund and DNB have already stated their concerns about the pipeline project and the conflict surrounding it. DNB officials promised to make an “objective evaluation, based on facts” of how the human rights of local indigenous people were being protected, and to work towards a “more constructive process to find solutions to the conflict.”
Protesters in Oslo on Thursday seemed keen to prod along that process, at what they called “Solidarity Day with Standing Rock.” Waving banners that they were “standing with Standing Rock,” they represented a variety of organization in Oslo and made a string of appeals, highlighted by Norwegian rapper Beliz (Celine Staubo Bellis, see video above), with all of them calling for a halt to what they call “the black snake.” Several Members of Parliament in Norway have also expressed concern over the pipeline project, and the state’s indirect involvement.