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Sweden launches commission on injustices suffered by Sámi people

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By AFP
Traditional Sami shoes made from the skin of reindeer on Longastunturi mountain near Kiruna, Sweden.
Traditional Sami shoes made from the skin of reindeer on Longastunturi mountain near Kiruna, Sweden.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Malin Moberg

Sweden's government says it will set up a special commission to investigate the indigenous Sámi people.

The "truth commission" will examine the Swedish colonisation of Lapland and its "historical" attitudes to the minority.

Last week, Finland also set up a body to "gather the experience of the Finnish state's actions by the Sámi people".

Advocates of indigenous people have been calling on the Swedish government to investigate the matter for years.

"It is now time for the history and realities of the Sámi people to be brought to light," said Marie Persson, chairman of the Sámi Parliament's group for a truth commission.

Sweden's Minister for Culture and Democracy Amanda Lind said in a statement that she was "very pleased" that the commission had been appointed.

"The government has a responsibility to increase knowledge about the attacks, abuse, and racism suffered by the Sámi," she added.

The independent five-person commission is due to begin hearings in the coming weeks and complete its work in November 2023.

The Sámi, who are believed to have arrived in Europe's far north at the end of the last ice age, live mainly from traditional reindeer herding.

Between 80,000 and 100,000 people are believed to be living in northern Finland, Norway, Sweden, and parts of Russia. As many as 40,000 Sámi live in Sweden, although there is no official census.