June 22, 2020 / 3:30 PM / 19 days ago

Greenland statue attacked as Black Lives Matter protest reaches the Arctic

The statue of Hans Egede is seen after being vandalized in Nuuk, Greenland June 21, 2020. Picture taken June 21, 2020. Ritzau Scanpix/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. DENMARK OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN DENMARK.

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - A statue of a Danish-Norwegian coloniser in Greenland’s capital Nuuk was vandalised with red paint and the word “decolonize” on Sunday in a sign that Black Lives Matter movement has reached the Arctic island’s indigenous people.

The incident could help inflame old tensions with former colonial power Denmark less than a year after U.S. President Donald Trump offered to buy the vast island.

The statue of Hans Egede, a missionary whose arrival in Greenland in 1721 marked the beginning of the island’s colonial era, was vandalised in the early hours of Greenland’s National Day, police said.

Pictures of the vandalised statue posted on social media drew hundreds of mostly approving comments.

“Inuit are constantly silenced and never given the opportunity to process the traumas that have been passed down for generations,” Paninnguaq Lind Jensen, who runs a traditional Inuit tattoo shop in Nuuk, wrote on Facebook.

Greenland, home to only 56,000 people, was a Danish colony until 1953 when it became a formal part of the Nordic kingdom.

In 2009, Greenland was granted broad self-governing autonomy, including the right to declare independence from Denmark.

Few Greenlanders see independence as viable in the short-term given their economic dependence on Denmark, but polls show a majority support it as a long-term goal.

Reporting by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen; Editing by Angus MacSwan

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