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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Utøya memorial conflict far from over

A court-bound conflict over construction of a memorial to victims of the massacre on the island of Utøya on July 22, 2011 remains deadlocked, mostly, it seems because of poor communication among all those involved. An attempt at compromise was lost just before the weekend, because those living near a potential memorial site were once again left out of the process.

They claim they first heard about plans to move the disputed memorial to another site in their neighbourhood at a press conference on Friday, where AUF (the Labour Party youth group targeted in the Utøya attack) and the victims’ support group publicly announced it. AUF leader Mani Hussani claimed the move was aimed at appeasing those demanding a memorial in sight of Utøya and those living in the area who don’t want a memorial that will remind them of the tragedy on a daily basis. Government Minister Jan Tore Sanner was also on hand for the announcement of the newly propose site, claiming it was interesting and aimed at settling the memorial conflict and keeping it out of court.

It was unclear why the neighbours weren’t consulted or informed in advance, but they were left feeling exluded and offended once again. “I’m very disappointed, they (proponents of the memorial) never communicate with us,” said Dag-Kjetil Holtane-Berg, who lives along the shoreline opposite Utøya. He and his neighbours don’t want a memorial in their midst that’s also likely to bring more traffic and people to their area when they just to get on with their lives.

AUF, the victims’ support group and government officials thus made a mistake in not alerting local residents to their compromise plan, a memorial at the site of AUF’s ferry terminal to the island, before unveiling it publicly. The neighbours vowed they would move forward with their lawsuit against against the state that’s aimed at blocking the entire project.

Sanner said he would nonetheless try to arrange new meetings with the neighbours, local government officials and other local interests to talk through a new compromise site for the memorial.  The only memorial the neighbours are willing to support is one located much higher up the hill behind their community, near a roadside rest with a view to Utøya but out of sight for them. AUF, the victims’ support group and state officials want a site closer to the island and fjord where the tragedy actually unfolded. staff




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