By Pierre-Henry Deshayes, AFP
September 12, 2013, 12:12 am TWN
“A lot of people quit politics after the Utoeya massacre. Me, I chose to continue to fight for all those who died and who can’t do it themselves anymore,” 23-year-old Bjoerdal said after winning a seat in Monday’s general election.
“If everyone had quit, that would have signaled Breivik’s victory and our defeat.”
On July 22, 2011, Breivik, a right-wing extremist armed with a semi-automatic rifle and a handgun, spent more than an hour shooting at hundreds of youths gathered on Utoeya island for the summer camp of the Labour Party’s youth wing.
Breivik later explained that he wanted to wipe out the nascent leaders of the party, Norway’s dominant political force, which he blames for the rise of multiculturalism.
Trapped on a small island measuring just 0.12 square kilometres (0.04 square miles), 69 people lost their lives, most of them teenagers.
“I escaped by running back and forth, up and down the island to hide from him and his bullets,” Bjoerdal recalled.
“It was close. I was very lucky. When you see the bullets tearing into the water right close to you, you know it’s a question of centimeters.”
The party’s future was not wiped out.
In Monday’s election, Bjoerdal, who until now worked with social services helping youths in trouble, won a seat for the Labour Party in a constituency in western Norway.
The Labour-led coalition lost the election to the center-right.
“I don’t think Utoeya had anything to do with my nomination on the (electoral) list,” Bjoerdal said. “I was careful not to portray myself as an Utoeya survivor. That’s not the political profile I want.”
A total of 33 Utoeya survivors were candidates for the Labour Party, three of whom were elected, though Breivik’s massacre was not an issue in the election campaign.
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