Norway: inauguration of a memorial to the victims of the Utoya massacre
Norway on Saturday inaugurated a memorial to the victims of the 2011 attacks by extremist Anders Behring Breivik: 77 bronze columns representing each of those killed in his attacks.
Survivors, relatives of the victims, Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store and Prince Haakon, Crown Prince of Norway, attended the ceremony, nearly eleven years after the country’s deadliest attack in times of peace.
“As a nation we need a place of remembrance. A place that will forever remind us of all those we have lost. A place where our children and grandchildren can learn what happened, the consequences of the right-wing extremism and hatred,” the prime minister said.
On July 22, 2011, the far-right Norwegian first detonated a bomb near the government headquarters in Oslo, killing eight people, then killing 69 people, mostly teenagers, by opening fire on a camp. Labor Youth summer on the island of Utoya, about 40 km north-west of the capital.
The memorial, located near the quay where passengers take the ferry to Utoya, is in the form of a staircase drawing a large curve that descends to the sea. At the base of the steps, stand 77 bronze columns in memory of the 77 dead from the two attacks.
The first curved arch of the colonnade faces where the sun was when the bomb exploded in Oslo. The second is oriented to the location of the sun at the time of the killings at Utoya.
Many residents living near Utoya had challenged the memorial project in court, wanting it to be installed in another location.
The plaintiffs, some of whom had participated in the rescue on the day of the massacre, believed that it risked reviving painful memories. In February 2021, a Norwegian court dismissed the claim.
Breivik, now 43, was sentenced in 2012 to 21 years in prison with the possibility of extension. In January 2022, he requested his release after serving the minimum ten-year sentence to be able to do so, but in February a court rejected his request, considering that he still posed a risk to society.