Statement from Jonas Dahlberg

Statement regarding the Norwegian Governments' try to reach a settlement with the local residents that has filed a lawsuit against the Norwegian State in order to stop the 22 July National Memorial Site at Sørbråten, close to Utøya.

Stockholm, Thursday September 15 2016

On Monday September 5 I was notified that the Norwegian Government had decided to try to reach a settlement with the group of 22 local residents of Hole Municipality, headed by local Fremskrittspartiet politician Jørn Øverby, that has filed a lawsuit against the Norwegian State in order to stop the 22 July National Memorial Site at Sørbråten, close to Utøya. The Government’s proposition means cancelling the work at the Sørbråten site, one month before construction was scheduled to begin. The intention would be to restart the process and find a new design for the memorial, with the involvement of the local residents. On Wednesday September 14 I was informed that the local residents had declined settlement offer.

I am convinced that the public debate about the memorials in Hole and in Oslo is an important part of the grieving process necessary for a community. Most comparable memorials in other parts of the world have undergone even longer periods of uncertainty before they were completed compared to the five years that have passed since the events of July 22 in Norway. Many have also been surrounded by similarly complex discussions. Overseeing this delicate situation, and gently guiding the conversation, is a responsibility of the Government.

The events of 22 July 2011 were an act of political terrorism. It is more important than ever to talk about its causes and context in the current political climate. A memorial that proposes a state of consensus, a form of silence, would also diminish the events and make it easier for the circumstances to be forgotten in time. I believe that the purpose of a national memorial site is to honor the lives lost by insisting on a continued and collective conversation about the events leading to it. The conversation itself, even if at times  ncomfortable, is what can work as a way of processing the trauma in the long run.

I am grateful for the opportunity to work with the 22 July National Memorial Sites for the past Three years, and for the faith entrusted in me by the victim’s relatives and the survivors. I hope that I will have continued trust to complete the work on the memorials in Hole and in Oslo. The work and the people I have met have changed my life forever.

Jonas Dahlberg

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