Norway commemorates anniversary of Breivik bloodbath.
UTOEYA, Norway: Norwegians on Sunday marked a year since right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik massacred 77 people with a poignant memorial ceremony on the island of Utoeya where most of his mainly teenage victims fell.
The country continues to mourn and investigate the loss of 68 people killed on the island of Utoya who were attending a youth summer camp of the country’s left-wing Labor Party as well as eight killed by a car bomb in Oslo last Friday. Norwegian Anders Behring Breivik is accused of the shootings and attacks. Over the weekend it was reported that more than 100,00 people gathered in Oslo for a flower vigil to remember the victims
“Even though we carry a heavy burden, we are still standing,” said the head of the Labour Party youth wing Eskil Pedersen on the anniversary of the atrocity that stunned the usually tranquil nation.
“He took some of our loveliest roses, but he could not stop the springtime,” Pedersen said at Utoeya, where Breivik gunned down 69 people.
He was speaking to around 1,000 Labour Party youths — several of them survivors of the bloodbath — who were gathered on a lawn along with Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and other top political officials. Pedersen himself escaped the gunman’s bullet at the start of the massacre.
“Even after a year, it is barely possible to measure the suffering and fear that seized Utoeya last July 22,” Stoltenberg said at the ceremony that began with a minute of silence and two songs by a survivor who saw her boyfriend killed.
The Labour prime minister will meet family members of Breivik’s victims and lay a second wreath on the heart-shaped island at 6:45 pm (1645 GMT) — almost exactly the time that Breivik was finally arrested after his more than hour-long shooting spree. “We stuck together at the most difficult time our generation has ever experienced. Today as well, take care of one another,” survivor Adrian Pracon said in a tweet. “Mixed feelings but we will have a good day and remember those who never went home. It’ll do us good,” tweeted another, Marte Oedegaarden.
Breivik’s rampage began in Oslo, where he set off a massive bomb outside the main government building, killing eight. “The bomb and bullets were aimed at changing Norway,” Stoltenberg said earlier. “The Norwegian people responded by embracing our values. The killer failed, the people won.” The extremist, now 33, said he carried out the attacks to protect his country against “the Muslim invasion” and said he had targeted the Labour Party for its immigration policies and support for a multicultural society. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sent a message of sympathy to the Norwegian people for this “enormous tragedy”. Breivik, whose 10-week trial ended last month, is awaiting his verdict, expected August 24.
While there is no doubt he carried out the attacks, the five Oslo court judges must decide whether he should be considered criminally sane and sentenced to prison, as requested by his defence, or instead follow the prosecution’s line and send him to a closed psychiatric ward.
The Labour prime minister, who was at his official residence and not in his office in the 17-storey main building at the time, began Sunday’s commemorations by laying a wreath near the spot where the bomb went off.
The streets around the government complex reopened only last week after the removal of more than 4,300 tonnes of rubble, at a cost of more than 300 million kroner (40 million euros, $48 million).
Stoltenberg attended many of the most heart-wrenching events commemorating the worst atrocity carried out on Norwegian soil since World War II. Norway’s king and queen joined him at a service at Oslo’s cathedral, where hundreds of people were gathered outside, laying heaps of roses — the Labour Party symbol — as they did in the weeks after the attacks.
“Know that we miss you,” Pedersen said there. “Today, we honour you. Tomorrow a new day begins. We must go forward — not without sadness, not without pain, but together we will make it.” Stoltenberg is also set to attend a commemorative concert outside Oslo city hall featuring mainly Norwegian musicians and possibly Bruce Springsteen.
Norwegian folk singer Lillebjoern Nilsen, who in April led some 40,000 rose-waving protesters to sing a song derided by Breivik, will also perform. Norway’s professional football teams observed a minute of silence before all games played on Sunday.
Flowers and candles are seen at a temporary memorial site for the victims of the shooting spree and bomb attack in Norway, on the shore in front of Utoeya island, northwest of Oslo, July 26. Norwegian Anders Behring Breivik is in all likelyhood «insane», his lawyer said after the anti-Islam radical admitted to bomb and shooting spree in Norway on Friday that killed 76 people. (Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters)
Elizabeth Amundsen,16, cries as hundreds of thousands of people gather at a memorial vigil following Friday’s twin extremist attacks, July 25 in Oslo. Anders Behring Breivik, 32, claimed that he has «two more cells» working with him as he appeared in court following a bomb blast at a government building in Oslo and a shooting massacre on nearby Utoya Island that killed at least 76 people in all. The death toll was originally reported as 93. (Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)
Thousands attended a vigil walk near Utoya Island in Sundvolden. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
A rose is seen above a sea of flowers and lit candles at a temporary memorial site for the victims of the shooting spree and bomb attack in Oslo July 27. (Cathal McNaughton/Reuters)
Victims received treatment outside government buildings in the center of Oslo, July 22 following an explosion that tore open several buildings including the prime minister’s office, shattering windows and covering the street with documents. (Fartein Rudjord/Associated Press)
A wounded woman is brought ashore opposite Utaoya island after being rescued from a gunman who went on a killing rampage targeting participants in a Norwegian Labor Party youth organisation event on the island, some 40 km southwest of Oslo July 22. (Svein Gustav Wilhelmsen/AFP/Getty Images)
A medic comforts an unidentified survivor from the shooting at an island youth retreat outside a hotel where survivors are being reunited with family members in Norway July 23. (Matt Dunham/Associated Press)
Police continue their investigations July 25 on the Utoya island in the Tyrifjorden lake in Norway were a shooting massacre at a youth camp took place Friday. The man who confessed to the twin attacks that killed 93 people in Norway will be arraigned in court Monday and has requested an open hearing for his first appearance so that he can explain his massacre to the public. (Terje Bendiksby/Associated Press)
Norwegian police continue searches around the coast of Utoya island following Friday’s twin extremist attacks July 24. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Norwegian Anders Behring Breivik (L), the man accused of a killing spree and bomb attack in Norway, sits in the rear of a vehicle as he is transported in a police convoy as he is leaving the courthouse in Oslo July. A judge ordered eight weeks detention on Monday for Breivik who has admitted a bombing and shooting massacre. (Jon-Are Berg-Jacobsen/Aftenposten via Scanpix)
Destroyed windows are seen in a street near the damaged government building’s area in Oslo July 27. (Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters
The damaged entrance of Norwegian newspaper VG building in Oslo on July 23 next to the government headquarters building area, a day after twin attacks here and on a youth camp, Norway’s deadliest post-war tragedy. (Aleksander Andersen/AFP/Getty Images)
A rose is placed over shattered glass from the blast site after a memorial march to mourn for the victims of the killing spree and bomb blast in Oslo July 25. At least 100,000 people, many carrying white or red roses, rallied in Oslo on Monday to show support for victims of the attacks. (Wolfgang Rattay/Reuters)
Survivors from the shooting at the island of Utoya walked along a street in central Oslo July 25. An Oslo district court judge decides to hold the arraignment for the suspect in the twin attacks in Norway behind closed doors, depriving him of the platform he’s looking for to air his belief that Europe must be saved from Muslim colonization. (Emilio Morenatti/Associated Press)
Friends and loved ones gather at the Oslo cathedral to mourn 93 victims killed in twin terror attacks from a bombing in downtown Oslo and a mass shooting on Utoya island on July 24. (Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)
People gather in memory of those who died in the Oslo bomb attack and shooting spree in the city of Bergen, July 25. An estimated crowd of 20,000 people attended according to the police. (Thomas Anthun Nielsen/Reuters)
Oslo’s town hall is decorated with flowers by some of the 150,000 people who gathered for a flower vigil on July 25 in Olso, during a show of solidarity with the victims of recent attacks in Norway. (Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images)
Relatives gather to observe a minutes silence opposite Utoya Island, following Friday’s twin extremist attacks on July 25. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
A Norwegian girl draws a heart on a mural for victims of the twin attacks on Friday, in central Oslo, Norway July 23. (Emilio Morenatti/Associated Press)
A woman holds a rose as she arrived to pay tribute to victims of the twin attacks at a memorial service at Oslo Cathedral July 24. (Emilio Morenatti/Associated Press)
A girl looks on as Norway’s Foerign Minister Jonas Gahr Store addresses inside the World Islamic Mission Mosque in Oslo July 26. Friday’s attacks by Anders Behring Breivik traumatised normally peaceful Norway, which has been struggling to come to terms with its worst peace-time massacre of modern times. (Cathal McNaughton/Reuters)
People sit outside a cafe near Oslo station July 27. Norway’s prime minister on Wednesday pledged a security review after a mourning period for at least 76 people killed by a far-right zealot in bombing and shooting attacks that have traumatised the nation. Jittery Norwegians tried to restore some normality five days after the bloodletting, but a security alert forced the evacuation of Oslo station, keeping nerves on edge. (Cathal McNaughton/Reuters)
Norwegian military stand guard near the site of the bombing in the city centre, as people mourn the victims killed in twin terror attacks from the bombing in downtown Oslo and a mass shooting on Utoya Island on July 24. (Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)
People gather outside Oslo City Hall to participate in a «rose march» in memory of the victims of Friday’s bomb attack and shooting massacre July 25. (Emilio Morenatti/Associated Press)
Norwegians hold roses and confort each other as thousands of people gather at a memorial vigil following Friday’s twin extremist attacks on July 25 ,2011 in Oslo, Norway. Anders Behring Breivik, 32, claimed that he has «two more cells» working with him as he appeared in court today following a bomb blast at a government building in Oslo and a shooting massacre on nearby Utoya Island. (Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)
A girl holds a flower as she takes part in a march near Utoeya island to pay their respects for the victims of the killing spree and bomb attack in Norway, in the village of Sundvollen, northwest of Oslo, July 26, 2011. Norwegian Anders Behring Breivik is in all likelyhood «insane», his lawyer said after the anti-Islam radical admitted to the bomb and shooting spree in Norway on Friday that killed 76 people. (Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters)