The island of Utøya was open for quiet reflection on Monday, ahead of Tuesday’s official July 22 commemorations on Utøya and at the government quarter in Oslo. This year marks the third anniversary of the terror attacks that left 77 people dead across the two sites.
It’s the last year Utøya will look as it did on July 22, 2011 when Norwegian right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik shot dead 69 young Labour (Arbeidernes Ungdomsfylking, AUF) summer camp attendees. In autumn work is due to begin on new buildings and a permanent memorial, so the AUF camp can return to the site for the first time next summer.
The National Support Group for July 22 (Nasjonal støttegruppe etter 22. juli) expected many would come to mark the day, reported Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). The group’s leader Trond Blattmann said many of the affected families had not yet been to the island. “Some want to be here at the point in time when they lost their own, others maybe wish to come a day in advance,” he said. “People are free to do as they want.”
“There are many places that are special to be on Utøya, at least now in connection to the anniversary,” said Åsmund Aukrust, AUF’s deputy leader. “Obviously, it is special to go into the cafe building, but also all of the other places. It concerns the whole island, the terrible things that happened.”
At this year’s AUF camp, held earlier this month at Gulsrud, participants wrote colourful notes which were laminated and hung from a tree by the campsite on Utøya. “It will also be possible for the affected to write their own notes about the values that matter to them,” said Aukrust. “Or people you miss, or something you want to remember. It is a simple way for people to show their loss over these days. He expected the “value tree” would be completely full after the commemorations.
Some of the notes already hanging read “we’re fighting for you and you will always be a part of us,” “life,” “freedom to love,” and “see you next year!”