Mar 15, 2013

Norways "Best Picture 2012" - The Scars of Terror

The portrait awarded "Best picture 2012", Norway. (Picture courtesy of ANDREA GJESTVANG)
As in many countries around the world, every year, the Norwegian Press Club, awards the best picture for use in media. I must be honest and say, I really haven't payed to much attention to this award the previous years, because I actually find the Norwegian media and photojournalism a little dull. But, this time, it's a little different. The photographer Andrea Gjestvang (Gjestvang homepage-link), did this portrait for use in the book "One day in history". It's a very simple portrait. A Norwegian young woman, eighteen years old. She's pretty, and looks like every other teenager - until you see the scars on her neck. She bares a horrific history with her. She was shot four times. At a political youth rally on the island "Utoya", 30 minutes away from our capitol Oslo. At point blank range, she was gunned down by one man. A crazy man, who entered the island, disguised as police in tactic gare. After he had talked to the teens for a few minutes, getting their trust, he opened fire. Then, he methodically went through the buildings, and the area on the island as the kids tried to run away, hide, and desperately avoid the bullets. There were about seven hundred people on the island, most of them teens, living in tents, and cabins, during the political youth rally for the Norwegian Labour Party. Fifty-nine of them were wounded. Sixty-nine others were killed! And more then half of them were the ages of fourteen till eighteen. It was the second part of a terror act, planned, and put in motion by one man alone. This portrait is a story in it self of the worst mass murder, attack and terror action in Norway during peace time. It all happened on July twenty-second, 2011 - and, barely two hours before this girl was shot at Utoya, this happened in the heart of downtown Oslo:

A powerful homemade bomb in a van, parked in the governmental quarters, blasted out several blocks of the downtown area. It's not possible to describe it. It's even difficult to describe it for those of us who were there. The explosion alone killed eight people. About two hundred were wounded. The work of building up the area after the explosion is still not finished. It was a total disaster. Chaos, and confusion. People in this otherwise so calm, peaceful and safe country, were during a split second, ripped out of the notion that we live in one of the safest and most peaceful countries in the world. And we were hit by one of our own. A Norwegian. Why? It's easy to say "because he's crazy". Of course, no sane person can plan to blast off a bomb, and then travel to an island in the meaning of murdering teenagers, and so be sane. But his reason for doing all this, was immigration. Because Norway has a very "kind" immigration politic, and, the political party leading our country, had it's youth rally on this island, he meant he was to be rewarded for his "deed", because, "wiping these future politicians out of the history, will save our country from being overrun by foreign devils". In other words, he wanted to murder those who were members of the political party. Because it had a "kind" immigration politic. Killing it's youngest members, he meant, would put an end to the future politicians, and the party it self. It's impossible to even comprehend, how one person can think this way. How "damaged" he must be? How could this happen? It's scary when you think of it. It can happen, that easy! One person. One plan. One sick mind, and he manages to blow up a whole part of a downtown area in one of the most peaceful cities in the world! And then, he travels, loaded with arms, to a second destination, where he kills almost seventy other young people, methodically. One sick mind, was what it took. The very first person he shot when he came to the island, was a young girl. As he walked towards her, and her friends, as they were sitting outside on a bench, he looked, and pointed at her, and said: "You are the most beautiful girl I have ever seen". Then he opened fire... 

The portrait awarded the "Best picture of 2012", tells us all this. For us here in my country, looking at it, only need one word to understand the whole history it tells - "Utoya"! That's all we need. We were ravaged that day. Violated. Destroyed. We were reminded in the most awful and horrific way, that even our little country, is not necessarily safe. That we need to be more on our toes. And we are. Now, that is. The portrait is the history of a mile-stone. Before, and after. It's important. That's why I like it so much. A picture alone can indeed say so much more than a thousand words...

(Please, be aware - Images with strong content follows)

After the terrorist was captured, at "Utoya"...

The perpetrator/terrorist, in his "uniform", walking among killed teenagers at the Utoya-island waterfront. (Image Helicopter News-Crew)
Downtown Oslo, after the bomb blast

It's horrible images. Some of them, still almost makes me cry. I remember watching all this live. In the moment. I think it's important to show the world, how it was, and what happened. It's a part of us now, and it's a scar in our history. Never the less, we learned from it. We came together, better, and stronger then ever. For us, and our small country, as Norway is, this was a huge shocking disaster! Compared to other countries tragedies, the scale of this is small. But the pain of it is just as devastating. This is our "Never Forget" - our "Nine-Eleventh"... It's Norway's "July Twenty-second". It's not a comparison. Not in any way. It's just our day, that we must not, and never will forget. The day when Norway lost it's safe and sweet "innocence"...

Take care of each other, and have a safe and wonderful weekend everyone! 
Til next time!

(Images in this blog-post are the courtesy of different media's - VG (Verdens Gang), Aftenposten, TV2 Norway, Oslo City CT (safety surveilance - ABC,, Andrea Gjestvang (Awarded "Best Media-Image 2012), and ME (Sindre Moen). All images has previously been publicly released in either media, or by me).  

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