Norway massacre survivor returns to Utoya Island

Eirin Kjaer was gravely wounded when right-wing Anders Behring Breivik carried out the attacks in 2011.


    Eirin Kjaer was gravely wounded by Anders Behring Breivik, the self-proclaimed "militant nationalist", on Norway’s Utoya island.

    On that Friday in July, 2011, Eirin waited to die in shallow water on the island’s edge.

    Four years after the massacre that killed 69 people, mostly teenagers from the country's Labour Party, Kjaer returns to the island to reclaim the happy memories she had lost. Al Jazeera spoke to her.

    Al Jazeera: What do you remember from that day?

    Eirin Kjaer: “It was very rainy so football matches had been cancelled, it was just muddy. So we were mostly inside and I remember that my sleeping bag was wet and everything was wet.

    I knew at once that they were gunshots. I didn’t think it was anything else, so I understood right away that something wasn’t right, that it was serious.

    I was shot once in the stomach, it destroyed very much of my insides. I lost a lot of muscle tissue. I was shot in my foot, my knee and my arm. I was convinced that I was going to die so i just sat by the water and waited for him to come back and shoot me again, or just die because of blood loss."

    AJ: You were rescued by a police boat, how did that feel?

    Eirin Kjaer: "It’s kind of weird to talk about it, because everyone else had these great stories about what they thought about to keep themselves alive and what they did. I just sat there. I didn’t even try to stop the bleeding. So it’s just a miracle that I survived."

    AJ: How did you process the experience afterwards?

    It’s a strange thing to say, but I think I’ve been lucky because I was physically injured. So my brain shut down and used all the energy to get well physically. It took half a year before I had any kind of reaction mentally. From there I have taken little steps, but I have never had any big problems. I’ve seen a psychiatrist but I never thought that was something I had to do to move forward."

    AJ: Have you now moved forward?

    Eirin Kjaer: "Yes of course, I’ve moved forward all the way. I haven’t had any problems with this happening. It hasn’t stopped me from doing anything that I want.”

    AJ: And you still want to be a Labour party politician one day. Why?

    Eirin Kjaer: "It’s because of our values, what we do, what we believe in. It’s important to have something to fight for, something that’s important to you.”

    AJ: Do you think about the people who died on that day?

    Eirin Kjaer: "Of course. Those of us who’ve been on many summer camps and been with the [Labour Youth] organisation for some time, we knew very well many of those that died. But it’s never really sad, it’s just joyful moments because we had so much fun together. I think it’s important to remember the good times and not the bad times.”

    AJ: Are you glad to be back?

    Eirin Kjaer: "It’s just wonderful to be back doing the same things that we used to do, playing football, maybe do some kissing in the bushes and that kind of stuff. It feels like a normal camp for me now, and that is such a relief."

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera



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