- Associated Press - Thursday, July 22, 2021

OSLO, Norway (AP) — Commemorations began Thursday to mark 10 years since Norway’s worst-ever peacetime slaughter.

On July 22, 2011, right-wing extremist Anders Breivik set off a bomb in the capital, Oslo, killing eight people, before heading to tiny Utoya island where he stalked and shot dead 69 mostly teen members of the Labor Party‘s youth wing.

Events will take place around the country Thursday, including a service in Oslo Cathedral that will end with bells ringing in churches throughout Norway.

Around the country, people listened as emotional survivors read aloud the names of the 77 victims at a memorial event that was broadcast on television.

Some parents of the victims reflected on the way the country coped with the slaughter and said that “time does not heal all wounds.”

“(The victims) would be proud of how we reacted after the terror and how the rule of law stood strong,” said Lisbeth Kristine Roeyneland, whose daughter Synne was murdered by Breivik. Roeyneland now runs the national support group for victims and families.

“What would those who were so brutally and unfairly killed think of us now 10 years later? I think they would be sad to know that there still are survivors and bereaved with great needs,” Roeyneland said.

“I think they would be disappointed in seeing the public debate in many ways has moved in the wrong direction,” she added. “I also think they would be proud of us. Proud of how we reacted in the days after the terrorist attack and how our state under the rule of law firmly stood its ground in the face of brutality.”

Astrid Hoem, a survivor from Utoya who now leads the AUF, the youth wing of the center-left Labor Party, said “we have not stopped the hatred” and urged Norway to continue facing up to the racism in the country.

“It is so brutal that it can be difficult to fathom,” Hoem said. “But it’s our responsibility to do so. Because 10 years on, we must speak the truth. We haven’t stopped the hatred. Far-right extremism is still alive. The terrorist was one of us.”

She was speaking to a group of mourners, including Crown Prince Haakon, Prime Minister Erna Solberg, survivors and families of the victims.

Solberg said it hurt to think back “on that dark July day” and added: “We must not leave hate unchallenged.”

“The terror attack on the 22nd of July was an attack on our democracy,” Solberg, Norway’s prime minister since 2013, said. “It was a politically motivated terrorist act towards the Labor Party, AUF and their ideas. But it wasn’t just an attack on a political movement. A whole nation was struck. But we rose again. But Norway was changed by an experience which still causes pain.”

King Harald was expected to speak during a commemoration in Oslo later Thursday. He was to be joined by past and present prime ministers and leaders of the Labor Party youth wing. Events will also take place on Utoya.


Lewis reported from Kristiansand, Norway.

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