Remembering the victims of the Kongsberg attacks!

16-10-2021 11:00 pm

This is one of the most difficult blog-posts I have written in a while. I wasn't even sure before now if I would publish it. After talking through the events of the other night with my parents, I decided to publish my thoughts here. The unthinkable has happened, again! This time in a neighbouring town, only 40 minutes from my hometown of Drammen.

On Monday, my little sister and I had been in Kongsberg with our parents. Sydney and I had been invited to go bowling with other kids who have a family member (like our dad) who have and/or has survived cancer. It was our first event organised by Kongsberg Municipality and Norway's Cancer organisation since dad was diagnosed with cancer. We weren't too sure what to expect, so mum and dad came along with us, as our back-up. We had more fun that we first thought that we would have, and I was invited to go back to Kongsberg the day after to go go-carting with kids my age.

Because I was late from another meeting, I missed my train from Drammen to Kongsberg by about 2-3 minutes. I felt a little disappointed and at the same time a little relieved. I had a ton of homework, and thought that it was just as well that I was going home.

I was completely unaware of what had been unfolding in Kongsberg, and that my parents were frantically trying to get a hold of me. I was blissfully chatting with a friend on my mobile who was keeping me company on the walk home from the train station. After the 5th missed call from my mum, I finally said good bye to my friend so that I could call mum back.

My mum is the strongest woman I know! But she is also a mother who worries about us. Mum doesn't apologise for the fact that she is overly paranoid about our safety, and I are grateful that she is. If you know our history and what happened to my sister, then most people would understand why mum worries about us. It took less than a few seconds to understand that something had happened, that she thought I had landed myself in the middle of, simply put because of geography.

Knowing that my parents had spent almost 40 minutes pacing and frantically worrying about me, I will freely admit that I was relieved (for mum and dad) that for the first time in my life, I was late and had missed the train to Kongsberg. Dad never truly understood what it was like for mum the night Sharidyn was killed. 22nd July dad was on his way home from a work trip in China. For 40 minutes, both my parents thought the worst was happening to them, again. Another one of their daughters, possibly caught in the middle of yet another terrorist attack?

Once the shock of my parents nightmare had finally passed, the horror of the henious events in Kongsberg were still unfolding. The details are still a little foggy, but what we know now is that five innocent people have been killed in the beautiful town of Kongsberg. WHO the perpetrator is, is irrelevant. HE does not deserve the time of my pen. Click here for more information about the Kongsberg attacks on the 13th October 2021.

My mum has taught us to use our creative skills when we need to vent. For me, writing and painting are my outlets. For Sydney, she likes to draw and/or sing. As a family, we decided to go to Kongsberg to lay down flowers and pay our respects to the victims and their loved ones who were now going through the same processes that we did when Sharidyn was killed.

One thing I've learnt in the 10 years since we lost Sharidyn, is there is no one way to mourn. We didn't know any of the victims, but we painfully know what it is like to have the most precious person in our life stolen from us because of one mans insanity. The families of victims of the Kongsberg attacks are in our thoughts and prayers.

Click here to read my interview with NRK (in Norwegian).

#viminnerdem #virememberthem

My little sister Sydney drawing a picture for Kongsberg (16-10-2021) Photo credit: V. Svebakk

Sydney's beautiful picture she made for Kongsberg (16-10-2021) Photo credit: V. Svebakk

My little sister Sydney beside her beautiful picture she made for Kongsberg (16-10-2021) Photo credit: V. Svebakk

Candles for the victims of the Kongsberg attacks (2021) Photo credit: Runnar Henriksen Jørstad/NRK

Our roses and Sydneys beautiful picture for the victims of the Kongsberg attacks (16-10-2021) Photo credit: Olav Rønneberg/NRK

The innocent victims of the Kongsberg attacks (16-10-2021) Photo credit: Norwegian Police

Who are the victims of Terrorism?

05-05-2019 11:25 am

Recently I was asked why I consider myself a victim. At first I was annoyed, and thought that was rude. But then when I realised that the person asking was geniunely interested in my answer - it took me a few seconds to think about what I was going to answer, and afterwards it made me think that there must be others that also are confused about what a victim of terrorism actually is.

First, if you google the dictionary definition of a victim, you would get the following or a similiar definition: "a person harmed, injured or killed as a result  of a crime, accident or other event or action." In describing victims of terrorism, there is no clear or universal definition in international law. Which means that each country has different definitions of who the victims of terrorism are.

The 1985 United Nations Declaration stated that victims of crime are:

1. Victims means persons who, individually or collectively, have suffered harm, including physical or mental injury, emotional suffering, economic loss or substantial impairment of their fundamental rights, through acts or omissions that are in violation of criminal laws operative within Member States, including those laws proscribing criminal abuse of power.

2. A person may be considered a victim, under this Declaration, regardless of whether the perpetrator is identified, apprehended, prosecuted or convicted and regardless of the familial relationship between the perpetrator and the victim. The term "victim" also includes, where appropriate, the immediate family or dependants of the direct victim and persons who have suffered harm in intervening to assist victims in distress or to prevent victimization.

In Norway, the government have clearly defined who the victims of the 22-July terrorist attacks in 2011 are. Until I asked my parents, I didn't know how the distinction was made. The victims are defined as: the 77 people who were killed, the survivors (approx. 325 that were in the government building or area in Oslo, and 564 people who were on Utøya at the time of the attacks), and the immediate families to the people who were killed (bereaved). All the victims of the 22-July terrorist attacks are legally identified and defined as a result of the police investigation.

Do I think I am a victim?My subjective meaning is: Of course I am. Why do I think I am a victim? I think the answer is pretty obvious. But whether I won't to be a victim or not - the fact is my sister, my parents daughter was killed, and everyday since Sharidyn was killed we live with the consequences of her brutal murder, just as other families of the 22-July terrorist attacks (and other terrorist attacks) do.

Creating awareness about the victims of terrorism has been important to me, because I have negative experiences of some people thinking that we are not victims because it was my sister that was killed and not us, or even worse that we play victims. Not only are statements like that insensitive and down right rude, but it is also devalues our relationship to my sister. No family, including mine choose our life. We were forcibly victimised because of hate and intolerance. People that shame-blame the victims because they are victims, are in my opinion - fueling hate and intolerance, and deliberately re-traumatising the victims with the intent of hurting them. 

All the families that I know, have spent the past almost 8 years struggling to piece together their lives. Each time there is a new terrorist attack, we all are reminded of the day our loved one was killed - and the pain and suffering each one of us has had to live with. If the larger community around each one of the victims bereaved, survivors and their families, forget that they will never stop being victims as long as they live, to me is a tragedy in itself.

Compassion for the victims should never stop, just because years have passed. We know other families of other terrorist events who have lived 15-20 years without their loved ones, and they are reminded of that same paralysing fear and grief, every time there is a new terrorist attack.

I have lived almost 8 years without Sharidyn, and the pain I feel about losing my sister didn't suddenly disappear one day I wasn't looking. It is only bcause of my parents, that I have learn't to see the beauty in our life so that the pain and hurt of losing Sharidyn, isn't a constant feeling - which some days it is. I think people forget that when Sharidyn was killed I was only 7 years old, and our little sister was a baby.

For me and my little sister Sydney, we are still learning not just about how and why Sharidyn was killed - but also how to cope with our grief. You don't just wake up one morning, and suddenly have the coping skills. Which is the reason why I have my blog - to create awareness, and advocate on behalf of victims that are like me and my family.


Victims of 2011 terrorist attacks in Oslo and Utøya (2011) Photo Credit: Unknown

Bærum Mosque Shooting

20-08-2019 11:30 pm

Yet another vicious attack in Norway. Have we not learnt anything from 22. July or the terrorist attacks in New Zealand?

On Saturday 10th August, a 21-year-old Norwegian supremacist broke into the Al-Noor Islamic Centre mosque in Bærum Norway, and opened fire inside the centre thankfully not injuring anyone. Bærum is approx. 20 kilometres west of the capital Oslo. A 75-year-old elderly man who had been in the mosque with two others, was able to overpower the gunman until the police arrived.

After the shooting at the Al-Noor mosque, the police discovered that the gunman had killed his 17-year-old stepsister Johanne Zhangjia Ihle-Hansen in their family home before he went to the mosque. Johanne was his only victim.

Thinking of Johannes family

Victim of the Bærum mosque shooting, Johanne Zhangjia Ihle-Hansen (2019) Photo credit: Private

Victims of the Walmart massacre in El Paso Texas 

05-08-2019 9:30 pm

You might be thinking when you hear that there has been shooting in the United States, Again? Shootings in the US unfortunately happen way too often. So what makes the shooting in Texas that I would write about it?

For reasons unknown, the massacre in El Paso hasn't reached our Norwegian media. Maybe it is because the media here is yet to make the connection with the mosque terrorist attacks in New Zealand in March, who knows. The fact that 22 innocent victims (and their families who are now mourning them) are dead because of yet another white nationalist supremacist who took it upon himself to decide who can live or die. These were ordinary people going about their daily lives, shopping at Walmart! 

It is heartbreaking that there are horrendous people in the world that think their existence is more important than others. As I am writing this post, I am deeply heartbroken knowing that the youngest victim of the shootings in El Paso was 15-year-old Javier Amir Rodriguez who loved to play soccer. 

My thoughts and prayers today are with the victims and especially the newly bereaved families.


Some of the victims of the Walmart massacre in El Paso Texas (05-08-2019) Photo credit: Private

Victims of the Al-Noor mosque massacre in Christchurch

20-03-2019 10:30 pm

On 15th March 2019, an Australian born terrorist attacked two mosques in the city of Christchurch New Zealand, killing 51 innocent people and injuring 50 more. The youngest victim was three-year-old Mucaad Ibrahim who attended the Al-Noor mosque with his father and older brother.

The terrorist attacks on the mosques were livestreamed by the terrorist for 17 minutes, and was viewed over 4,000 times on social media sites before the videos were eventually removed.

Victims of 2019 terrorist attacks in New Zealand (2019) Photo credit: RNZ