Oslo, Norway – With much of the world’s eyes and attention on the recent shooting by James Holmes in a theater in Aurora, CO during the premiere of The Dark Knight Rises, Norway is remembering how one year ago today, they lost 77 lives in a mass shooting and bombing by Anders Behring Brerivik.
The Christian Science Monitor reports that the normally peaceful nation was forever changed when Anders Behring Brerivik mounted an assault against the government by setting off a car bomb in the government quarters of Oslo, killing eight. Breivik continued by launching a mass shooting spree at the Labor party’s political summer camp for youth on Utoya island, killing 69 people.
According to Yahoo News, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg stated during a wreath-laying ceremony at the bomb site today:
“The bomb and the gun shots were meant to change Norway. The Norwegian people answered by embracing our values. The perpetrator lost. The people won.”
CSM notes that Stoltenberg went on to say:
“But of course we are not in no way changed. This will affect us and it has affected us partly by some of the measures we have already implemented related to increased capacity for the police security services and closer cooperation between the army and the police. And I believe that we are going to do more of these kinds of things after the [July 22] Commission presents its report within the next few weeks.”
The majority of Breivik’s victims were teenagers, killed with a Glock pistol and a Ruger semi-automatic weapon while they attempted to run from him, trapped on the island of Utoya. The survivors and families of victims gathered together for a private ceremony on the island which saw so much carnage just one year ago.
Eskil Pederson, one of the survivors and head of the Labor Party’s youth chapter, encouraged the crowd to renew their commitment to a diverse society, stating:
“Today we remember those who were killed. Tomorrow we continue the fight for what they believed in.”
Jorn Overby, a local resident who rescued survivors fleeing the island by pulling them from the water into his boat, is still haunted by the memories of that day:
“Sometimes I think about the parents who lost their young ones. Sometimes I think about the young ones I see floating in the water and lying in the shore.”
— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) July 22, 2012
A church service was also attended by government leaders and the royal family in Oslo’s cathedral, while vicar Elisabeth Thorsen urged attendees to remember the victims of violence in other parts of the world, like Syria and the U.S., a reference to the shooting spree by James Holmes that left 12 dead and 59 wounded in Aurora, Colorado.
A memorial concert will also take place later Sunday in downtown Oslo, with thousands of people expected to attend.
Anders Behring Breivik’s trial ended on June 25th, and he is expected to be sentenced by the end of the month. In Norway, where there is no death penalty, the Norway mass murderer will receive a maximum of 21 years in prison.