An open letter (response) to the President of the Saami Parliament Silje Karine Muotka from the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North (RAIPON)

Dear Ms. Silje Karine Muotka!

For many years, representatives of the Indigenous Peoples of Russia have been actively participating in international processes to develop the rights of Indigenous Peoples. RAIPON is an authorized representative of the Indigenous Peoples of the North, Siberia and the Far East of the Russian Federation. Alongside with various organizations representing the Indigenous Peoples from all over the World, we are working to ensure the State pay attention to and respect for the rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Difficult times always bring challenges. The stronger should be the bond between the brothers and sisters. The less politicized should be the relationship between them, without conditions, blackmail and resentments.

The Saami are one people divided by borders between four States. We consider the Saami Council decision to suspend relations with the RAIPON and Russian Saami organizations to be unjustifiably quick, without a discussion where we could hear each other. We have recently learned from the Internet about your proposal to the Government of Norway to resettle Russian Saami people in Norway.

The Saami are one of the 40 Indigenous Peoples of Russia. The Murmansk region of the Russian Federation is the territory of historical residence of the Saami. Saami in Russia are brave and strong people. Real people living on their own land, proud of their history, traditions and their citizenship. The resettlement of a people in a foreign country without the consent of the people themselves means a violation of international human rights standards, as well as the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Spiritual connection with the land is one of the main traditional values of the Indigenous Peoples living on Earth. The challenge for all people is to ensure peace and a dignified life in their land. The Arctic remains one of the few regions where Indigenous Peoples play major role in promoting dialogue between States. We need to strive to restore the joint work of the Permanent Participants of the Arctic Council and discuss our future in the Arctic. We need to revive the activities of the Arctic Council, which has brought so much good to the Arctic Indigenous Peoples. For example, through joint projects and activities to develop the culture and economy of Indigenous Peoples, support Arctic youth education, preservation and development of native languages, and much more. This is especially important in anticipation of the Russian Federation’s assumption of the Chairmanship of the Arctic Council by Norway. And the future of the Arctic depends on us, Indigenous Peoples, living in different countries.


Russian version

iR comment. Apparently, Ripon’s appeal refers to this interview with Ms. Silje Karine Muotka in which she mentioned: “I often think of our brothers and sisters on the Russian side and I don’t want to cause them difficulties. We have sent a separate letter to the Norwegian authorities stating that the Russian Saami will still be in their traditional territory if they want to apply for asylum in Norway and want to stay at our side of the border. They would still stay on indigenous territory in that case.”