On the 22 of July 2011, 77 people were brutally murdered in one of the worst acts of domestic terror to ever hit Norway. The massacre began with an early morning car bomb that exploded in Oslo’s government district, injuring more than 200 and killing 8 people. Later that afternoon as law enforcement officials worked their way through the locked-down district in their search for the assailant(s), panicked reports began to pour in from the island of Utøya, where scores of teenagers were spending their summer at the Norwegian Labour Party’s annual Youth Camp. By the time special forces had arrived, victims’ bodies were already lining the island’s shores.
This summer, for the first time since the massacre, a group of students from the Norwegian Labour Party has returned to the Utøya. For many within the Party, the island has become a symbol of national unity against hatred and a sacred place of remembrance. To honor the memory of those who lost their lives on that day, the Norwegian government has erected a memorial featuring the names of many who died during the hate crime.
However, some of the victims’ families have asked that their loved ones’ names not be placed on the memorial. Their loss, they explain, is simply too private to be added to the list. Other survivor families take issue with the fact that officials did not sufficiently consulted in the memorial plan-making. As one parent explained to a UK Guardian reporter, “We all want to honour our children. […] But we all deserve to be asked. It’s our children’s names.”