'I love you both,' massacre survivor texts parents
On July 22, Jaran Berg sent what he thought would be his last text message to his parents as a gunman went on a rampage through the Norwegian island of Utoeya. Now he's determined to ensure such a tragedy will not happen again.
On that fateful Friday, as 24-year-old Jaran Berg was desperately trying to flee the carnage at a summer youth camp on the Norwegian island of Utoeya, he took a second to text his parents.
“I love you both,” he texted.
“I was sure I was going to die - and I wanted to tell my parents that I love them,” Berg told FRANCE 24 in an interview at the hotel where he works in the southern Norwegian city of Fredrikstad days after the country’s worst postwar massacre.
Earlier this week, Norwegian parliamentarians paid tribute to the 77 people who were killed on July 22, when Anders Behring Breivik, the self-confessed armed attacker, bombed government offices in the capital of Oslo before going on an 80-minute shooting rampage in Utoeya, where the ruling Labour Party was holding a youth summer camp.
Berg was attending the camp and when he first heard the gunshots, he initially thought it was someone playing a game. But then, he saw the killer.
He ran for his life, past the dead bodies of teenagers, stopping only momentarily to be sick at one stage when the extent of the carnage hit home. As he hid, he heard the gunman approach. That was when he sent what he thought would be his last text message.
For Berg’s parents, it was the worst experience of their lives. These days, they struggle to imagine how other parents who have lost their children are coping.
“It was sad because some cried that they could not find their children,” said Eva Berg from her home in Fredrikstad.
Seeds of hope after the carnage
While Berg survived, one of his best friends was killed in the massacre. On his laptop, Berg displays a photograph of 17-year-old Lejla Selaci, who came to Norway from war-torn Kosovo with her family to escape the violence.
But even as he struggles to come to terms with the senseless carnage he witnessed, Berg is determined not to give up hope.
The 24-year-old survivor who works with his family in a hotel in Fredrikstad says he plans to devote his life to politics - as a tribute to his friends who were killed and to prevent such an attack from ever happening again.