Our Norwegian correspondent The Observer sends his translation of an article that was published in today’s Dagbladet. It discusses the case of Eskild Pedersen, the leader of the AUF (Youth division of the Labour Party), who escaped from Utøya on July 22 during the massacre.
The translator includes this note:
I’m not going to criticize Pedersen for the choices he made that day, but it certainly does not put him in a very flattering light. People who were in the area at the time put their own lives at risk and saved numerous young people who had got into the lake and fled the island.
Pedersen heard the gunshots and listened to the desperate pleas from those still on the island, but decided not to return and help. He was only thinking of himself.
That is the classical definition of a coward.
A member of a local chapter of the FrP (Progress Party) was sacked for calling Pedersen a coward at the time this incident was first made public, and I haven’t heard of anyone else questioning Pedersen’s choice up until now.
The translated article:
Criticized for fleeing Utøya
AUF leader Eskil Pedersen is criticized for fleeing Utøya on board the passenger ferry MS Thorbjørn.
In an interview with the BBC Pedersen gives his perspective on the flight and the criticism that followed afterwards. Nine people escaped the island onboard the ferry when the massacre occurred.
“I think I acted the way people would normally act in such circumstances, on instinct. I did as I was told and boarded the vessel, based on the information I had at the time,” Pedersen says in the interview, excerpts from which NRK showed last Sunday.
Now he is criticized from within the ranks of the AUF about the choices he made on July 22, 2011. AUF member Bjørn Ihler survived the massacre by hiding on the southern tip of the island.
“It’s easy to say that this is how people would react, that most would have fled the island. But this was the leader of the people on the island. It is akin to a captain abandoning ship,” Ihler says.
“Our only hope”
Adrian Pracon, County Secretary of Telemark AUF, describes the ordeal in his book, Heart to the stone, about how he was lying on a rock and simply couldn’t believe that the ferry had left the island.
“MS Thorbjørn was our only hope, and now it had left without us,” Pracon writes in the book. Pracon was shot in the shoulder, but survived the massacre by playing dead. He later stressed that this passage is not in any way meant as a criticism of Pedersen or the crew onboard MS Thorbjørn.
Pedersen said he acted on instinct and that he was told by others to get on the ferry.
“The offender has stated in interviews that I was his main target on Utøya. He had studied pictures of me and wanted to kill me. It is important to remember this,” says Pedersen.
“Does not recollect details”
The ferry departed Utøya around 17.30, fifteen minutes after Anders Breivik Behring made landfall. While the ferry was heading away from the island on the Tyri lake, several of the people on Utøya contacted the ferry with their cell phones and pleaded with the crew to return.
Pedersen says he does not remember who made the decision not to return.
“It is very difficult to analyze the choices that people made that day and what could have been done differently. It’s a hypothetical question that only produces hypothetical answers,” he says.