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Norway remembers Ut°ya and Oslo victims, one year on

Source: BBC | Sunday, 22 July 2012

Jens Stoltenberg: 'Let us honour the dead'

Norway is commemorating one year since 77 people were killed and 242 hurt in gun and bomb attacks in Oslo and on the island of Utøya.

PM Jens Stoltenberg has laid a wreath in Oslo and is expected to be joined by hundreds of people on Utøya, including the families of those who were killed.

Anders Behring Breivik, who has admitted carrying out the two attacks, remains on trial.

"The killer failed; the people have won," Mr Stoltenberg said.

As Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg addressed the crowds gathered outside the still devastated government headquarters in Oslo, a long day of remembrance began.

Watched by hundreds of people who had gathered in the city centre, and many more still watching on national TV, Mr Stoltenberg laid down a wreath in red, white and blue - the colours of the Norwegian flag.

Many had come carrying red roses, the symbol of the Labour Party, but also a symbol of the love and tolerance with which many people here say they want to confront the horror, rather than with anger. One survivor of the bomb told BBC News she felt the wreath-laying was a worthy ceremony, allowing people to remember those who died but also to start looking forward.

Later, she and many others are also taking part in another event - at Utøya island, where Anders Breivik killed 69 mainly young people. A special memorial service also took place in Oslo cathedral - one of many places holding such services.

Most of the dead were young activists with the Labour Party who had been staying on Utøya as part of a summer camp.

Church services, a concert and other events are being held around Norway.

"It's been a very heavy year for all of us. Not a day has passed the tragedy has not filled the room," Mr Stoltenberg said at a wreath-laying ceremony in Oslo.

"The bomb and bullets were aimed at changing Norway. The Norwegian people responded by embracing our values," he said.

"Let us honour the dead by being happy about the life they had, and the life we share."

Mr Stoltenberg is to give a speech to Labour Party youth on Utøya before laying a wreath there at 18:45 - the time a year ago when Breivik was arrested.

In the evening there will be a national memorial concert with mainly Norwegian musicians.

Hundreds of relatives and survivors held a private service on Utøya on Sunday morning.

Christin Bjelland, the mother of a survivor of the shootings, said the commemorations were especially important for the bereaved.

"What happened here is so huge, there were so many affected, that I think it means a lot to come together for those who wish and feel the love and care between all the affected," she said.

Many of the buildings that were damaged in the bomb attack have not yet been fully repaired.

The prime minister's office and the ministry of health buildings are still covered in plastic.

The attacks, regarded as the worst act of violence in Norway since World War II, sparked a national debate about the nature of tolerance and democracy in the country.

Breivik, who has been on trial for three months, has tried to justify the attacks by claiming he was trying to stop Muslims from taking over Norway.

But the government, and much of the population, have actively promoted tolerance and openness to counter Breivik's views.

"I think that people thought it a bit naive to cling to these values of openness in a situation like that," said Vegard Groeslie Wennesland, a Labour Party activist who survived the attack.

"But I think it's more naive to think that brutal police, or more restrictive policies will bring you a safer society."

Judges are to announce next month whether Breivik is sane or insane, and therefore whether he will be given a long prison sentence or be sent to a secure psychiatric ward.

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