We, the Norwegian society, will strike back

Saw this comment on the Amnesty International Norge Facebook page:

We, the Norwegian society, will strike back. We will strike back by giving the defendant a fair trial, we will strike back by giving him decent treatment. This way we will demonstrate to him, to ourselves and to the rest of the world that our basic values, such as the belief in justice, liberty, democracy and human rights, has not, despite his insane efforts to break them, moved an inch on the foundation our predecessors build up and fought for, and which many also even died for. And we will move on.

For me it epitomises all that is best about Norway.

Amnesty Norge‘s offices were near the bomb blast and two staff members were injured. We helped organise the gatherings across Norway yesterday, where huge crowds took to the streets in solidarity and sympathy.

This is part of the message I received from our Norwegian director, John P. Egenæs, today:

Here in Oslo at least 200.000 people participated, all carrying roses or other flowers. To give you an idea of the involvement you should know that Oslo has about 550.000 inhabitants, and July is our main vacation month so thousands are not at home. Gatherings of respect for and thoughts about the victims. Gatherings to show that violence and terror will not scare us or silence us. Gatherings to collectivelly start healing the wounds all of us feel in our souls.

I was fortunate enough to address the gathering here in Oslo, and although I never want to experience it again I must say it was a life changing experience. To stand before such a crowd and suddenly see all raise their flowers to make it look like a suddenly appearing field of the most beautiful kind is something I will never forget.

It hasn’t erased the horrific images I have running around in my mind of what the youngsters at Utøya had to live through, but it has created new images of beauty and human strength that will also stay in my mind forever.

My thoughts, and I am sure that of all Slugger readers, are with the families and friends of all those killed and injured and with the people of Norway as a whole at this particular time.

I am the Northern Ireland Programme Director of Amnesty International UK and an occasional human rights blogger at Amnesty Blogs: Belfast & Beyond.

I’m on Twitter at @PatrickCorrigan