Norway approves Utøya memorial for victims of 2011 massacre, despite local concerns
A memorial has been approved for the victims of the 2011 Norway terror attacks despite local concerns.
The Norwegian justice system dismissed the objections from residents of the island of Utøya who opposed the construction of a memorial.
Sixty-nine people were killed on the island by far-right extremist Anders Behring Breivik, while eight others died in an earlier bombing near government offices in Oslo.
Many of those killed on the island were teenagers attending a camp organised by the youth league (AUF) of the country’s Labour Party.
After discussions and the failure of an initial project, authorities decided to erect a memorial to the victims of the attacks.
The proposal featured 77 bronze columns at Utøyakaia (“Utoya’s pier”) in an arch formation on the bank facing the island, from where the ferry departs.
But 16 local residents – some who had taken part in the rescue operation – filed lawsuits against the state and AUF, demanding the memorial be relocated. The complaints stated the monument would forever remind people of the trauma of the massacre.
The Ringerike court said in the judgement:
The plaintiffs are clearly right to feel that they do not deserve to bear the burden of having a national memorial in their neighbourhood
However, this is not determinative … the considerations which plead in favour of the creation of a national memorial have more weight than the negative effects of such a memorial on the plaintiffs
The memorial is currently under construction and is expected to be ready for the tenth anniversary of the attacks on 22 July.
In response to the decision by the court, the AUF has said they were “satisfied and relieved” that a memorial would be built.
Secretary-general, Sindre Lysø said:
A national memorial on Utøyakaia means a great deal to the relatives of the victims and the survivors
But a spokesperson for local residents said the community was “shocked and infinitely disappointed” by the decision and reiterated fears that the memorial will add to local trauma.
The moral is that if you find yourself in an attack or in a situation with potential national and political interests, it is in your interest to turn your heels said, Anne-Gry Ruud.
The residents who rescued survivors of the massacre from the water were awarded medals and met Norway’s King Harald, but some say the government is ignoring their feelings.
A local resident said:
We are trying to move on … but every time we look in that direction, we will be haunted by these memories
The planned memorial site was moved from its original location of Sørbråten four years ago, after strong opposition from locals.
The project for the memorial was commissioned by the Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation, in collaboration with AUF.
We have had a long and inclusive process where we have tried to pay as much attention as possible to neighbours and others affected – minister Nikolai Astrup.
Complaints have one month to appeal the court’s verdict.
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