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Swedish teens build on Breivik massacre spot

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Swedish teens build on Breivik massacre spot
Utøya island in Norway. Photo: TT
14:58 CEST+02:00
Eighteen construction and civil engineering students from Sweden are taking part in a restoration project on the Norwegian island Utøya, where a youth politics conference is taking place this summer for the first time since dozens of young people were killed by Anders Behring Breivik in 2011.
The students are all 17 or 18 years old, the same age as many of the 69 people killed in the biggest massacre in Scandinavia in decades four years ago.
 
Three groups of the trainee construction workers who are studying at schools run by the Nordic construction firm Peab in Malmö, Stockholm and Gothenburg will take part in the initiative, which gets underway on Monday, April 13th.
 
"I don't think they feel scared, they are looking forward to helping," project leader Rickard Klanglund told The Local on Friday.
 
"They are going to restore a couple of buildings for a work placement, because they are all being trained in construction work right now," he explained.
 
"This is a Peab-led project, the company also has offices in Norway," he added.
 
Utøya is a tiny island situated 38 kilometres northwest of Oslo city centre. It is owned by Norway’s Labour Party Youth League (AUF), having been given to the group as a gift by the Oslo Trade Union Confederation in 1950.
 
The regeneration work gets underway just weeks after AUF outlined plans to hold its first annual summer camp on Utøya since 2011, when dozens of its members were shot dead by mass killer Anders Behring Breivik.
 
Marta Hofsøy, a spokesperson for the party, said that the Swedish students would be helping to paint and decorate the main building on the island.
 
"They’re helping us do some maintenance work, painting it, and there are a lot of things with the inside of the house that need doing,” she told The Local.
 
 
The AUF youth camp will have the theme of International Solidarity and will take place from August 7th to August 9th, with speeches from Jonas Gahr Støre, the leader of Norway’s Labour Party, amongst others. 
 
“To rebuild and get back to Utøya shows that the terrorist did not win,” AUF President Mani Hussaini told Sveriges Radio in February.
 
“We will continue to celebrate and fight for the same ideals that were attacked on July 22nd 2011.” 
 
The AUF had previously backed plans to demolish parts of two buildings on Utøya, while flatly denying that their intention was to erase memories of the 2011 massacre.
 
“The main building and the thing we call the cafe building, everything is staying, there’s just a small bit we’re taking away. We’re building a house around the old cafe house," Hofsøy confirmed to The Local on Friday.
 
"They will be ready for the summer camp, but the learning centre will not be ready until next year."
 
The group's summer camp will be preceded by a two-day memorial on the island to mark the anniversary of Breivik’s attacks, when people will be allowed to pay their respects to the dead. 
 
Then in the autumn the AUF plans to host a conference for youth parties from all Norway’s mainstream political parties. 
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