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|Minister for Foreign Affairs|
7 October 1998 – 11 September 2003
|Preceded by||Lena Hjelm-Wallén|
|Succeeded by||Laila Freivalds|
|Born||Ylva Anna Maria Lindh
19 June 1957
|Died||11 September 2003
|Political party||Social Democratic Party|
|Spouse(s)||Bo Holmberg (married 1991–2003)|
Ylva Anna Maria Lindh (19 June 1957 – 11 September 2003) was a Swedish Social Democratic politician, chairman of the Social Democratic Youth League 1984–1990, member of parliament 1982–1985 and 1998–2003. Ascending to the government as minister of environment in 1994, she was elevated to minister for foreign affairs by prime minister Göran Persson in 1998 and was widely considered his designated successor as party chairman and prime minister (neither of which posts had ever been occupied by a woman), speculations that came to a brutal end upon her assassination in September 2003. Anna Lindh was married to Bo Holmberg, the governor of Södermanland, her home constituency for over twenty years, with whom she had two sons.
Lindh was born to Staffan and Nancy Lindh in Enskede, a southeastern suburb of Stockholm, but grew up in Grillby, just outside of Enköping. She became involved in politics at age twelve, when she joined the local branch of the Swedish Social Democratic Youth League, protesting against the Vietnam war as one of her top priorities.
Lindh studied at Uppsala University and graduated as a Candidate of Law (jur. kand.) in 1982. The same year she was elected a member of parliament. In 1984 she became the first female president of the Swedish Social Democratic Youth League. Her six years as president were marked by a strong commitment to international affairs, including in Nicaragua, Vietnam, South Africa and Palestine, and against the arms race marking the end of the cold war.
Lindh served in parliament until 1985, and again from 1998. From 1991 to 1994 she was Commissioner of Culture and Environment and Deputy Mayor of Stockholm. In 1994, following a Social Democratic victory, the new prime minister Ingvar Carlsson made her minister for the environment. One of her resulting legacies was her pioneering work towards European Union legislation on hazardous chemical substances. She also urged for the establishment of a common EU strategy against acidification.
Following the 1998 general election, Göran Persson appointed Lindh to succeed Lena Hjelm-Wallén as minister for foreign affairs in the new government. Having made influential friends across the world during her time leading the Swedish Social Democratic Youth League, Lindh ardently supported international cooperation, both through the United Nations and in the European Union.
A high point in Lindh's career came during the Swedish presidency of the European Union during the first half of 2001. She served as chairman of the Council of the European Union, with responsibility for representing the official foreign policy position of the European Union as a whole. Travelling with the EU foreign and security policy spokesman Javier Solana in Macedonia during the Kosovo/Macedonian crisis, she negotiated an agreement that averted a civil war in the country.
Lindh criticised the 2003 invasion of Iraq, commenting that "a war being fought without support in the statutes of the United Nations is a major failure", but praised the fall of the regime of Saddam Hussein. She also advocated greater respect for international law and human rights in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, criticising Ariel Sharon's government in Israel, but also condemning Palestinian suicide bombings as "atrocities". In a speech on 30 January 2003, she called on Israel to "end the occupation, give up settlements, and agree on a pragmatic solution to Jerusalem" and on the Palestinians to "do everything in their power to stop the terrorist acts, and take legal measures against those responsible" and to "produce reform, for security, but also for democracy and human rights".
In the final weeks of her life, she was intensely involved in the pro-euro campaign preceding the Swedish referendum on the euro, held on 14 September 2003, three days after her death. As one of the most popular pro-euro politicians, she was used as a front person by the campaign, and so her face was on billboards all over Sweden the day she was murdered.
Anna Lindh died on the early morning of 11 September 2003, following a knife attack in Stockholm on the afternoon of 10 September. Just after 4 pm, she was attacked while shopping in the ladies' section of the Nordiska Kompaniet department store in central Stockholm. She was stabbed in the chest, stomach and arms. At the time of the attack, Lindh was not protected by bodyguards from the Swedish Security Service, a controversial predicament similar to that of prime minister Olof Palme in 1986, the first murder of a government member in Sweden's modern history.
Following the assault she was rushed to the Karolinska Hospital where she underwent surgery for over nine hours, receiving blood transfusions continuously during the surgery. She reportedly suffered serious internal bleeding, her liver was seriously damaged, and her medical situation remained grave, although at first she appeared to have improved following surgery. One hour after concluding the initial nine-hour surgery, complications forced resumption of surgery. At 5:29 am she was pronounced dead. Following a private briefing of her relatives and the interior of the government, juxtaposed by news coverage stating that she was alive and that the situation was "grave" but "stable", the announcement of her death made headlines over Europe hours later.
The murderer was able to escape after the crime. According to eyewitness accounts, his actions appeared deliberate and systematic. A phone number was set up for anyone who might know anything about the crime, and a massive manhunt was launched in Sweden, centred on Stockholm. After two days an image of a man, believed to be the murderer, was released by the police. This image was taken by a camera on a floor above the scene of the murder. A few items, pieces of clothing and a knife, believed to be connected with the murder, were found outside the department store, in the vicinity of a Stockholm metro station. At the scene of the crime the police were able to secure a handprint, also believed to be connected to the killer. Images from the department store's surveillance system, showing the suspect, were published on 13 and 14 September.
A man was apprehended on 16 September and was detained as a suspect to the murder on "justifiable grounds", the lowest degree of suspicion, but was cleared of all charges and released. On 24 September the police announced that a new suspect, Mijailo Mijailović, born in Sweden to Serb parents, had been apprehended and arrested at the higher level of suspicion, "probable cause". On 25 September it was announced that the DNA-profile of Mijailović matched that of hairs found on a baseball cap which had been left at or near the scene of the crime. He also resembled the man filmed in the store where Lindh was attacked.
After previously having denied all involvement, on 6 January 2004, Mijailović admitted to the crime and gave a full account of the events of 10 September, in an extra session of police questioning requested by Peter Althin, Mijailović's counsel. He was found guilty in a trial (held 14–17 January) and, following psychiatric evaluation, he was sentenced to life imprisonment on 23 March. However, on 8 July an appeals court overturned Mijailović's sentence after tests had concluded that he was suffering from a mental illness at the time of the killing. He was then transferred from prison to a closed psychiatric ward. Prosecutors re-appealed to the Supreme Court of Sweden, which re-instated the sentence of life imprisonment on 2 December of that year. Mijailović legally renounced his Swedish citizenship and expressed his willingness to be transferred to Serbia, but unsuccessfully so far, given the nature of the crime. After Olof Palme, Anna Lindh was the second prominent Swedish politician to be murdered in recent decades.
Despite Lindh's popular image and the time of the assassination, the murder was not deemed an act of partisan political gain, although a newspaper found an image of Mijailović listening to Liberal People's Party leader Lars Leijonborg and wearing attire similar to that he wore during the course of the murder. Mijailović admitted he found the speech "entertaining", but denied claims it had influenced his actions.
Reaction and legacy
Anna Lindh was an outspoken campaigner for Sweden to join the euro in the referendum held on 14 September. Following the attack, all euro-campaign events, for both the yes and no camps, were immediately cancelled. Television campaign commercials were withdrawn from broadcasting, in fact, all channels in Sweden stopped commercials airing between the evening on the 10th and the whole 11th while helping the public-service channels of SVT to report news. TV3 merged broadcasting with ZTV and TV8 airing "Efterlyst" (a program similar to America's Most Wanted), where the people could send information directly to the police that could help trace the murderer. All campaign advertising on billboards was to be removed, advertising in printed media cancelled etc. The murder was widely interpreted as an assassination of the free and open society that is a hallmark for Sweden and that this was a time for unity rather than political campaigning.
Following a meeting, held 12 September at midday, with prime minister Göran Persson and the leaders of the other political parties in the Riksdag, the decision was taken not to let the murder affect the schedule of the referendum. Information and resources on the issues of the referendum were to be fully available but no political campaigning or debate was to take place. The party leaders unanimously pledged support for holding the ballot as planned and to respect and abide by the outcome. Despite speculations that the sympathy for Lindh could influence the voting, the euro was rejected in the referendum.
Following Lindh's death, the junior minister in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Jan O. Karlsson, was made acting Minister for Foreign Affairs. In October of that year, Laila Freivalds was appointed as the successor to Anna Lindh's Cabinet post.
A number of commemorative gatherings were held for Lindh throughout Sweden and worldwide through the Church of Sweden Abroad, on 12–13 September. One gathering was held in the centre of Stockholm where tens of thousands gathered to grieve Anna Lindh. A more formal commemorative gathering was held at Stockholm City Hall on 19 September. Speakers at this gathering were H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf, prime minister Göran Persson, Chris Patten, Margot Wallström, European Commissioners, and the Swedish-speaking George Papandreou, foreign minister of Greece. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell could not participate because storms prevented his plane from taking off, but he sent his condolences. The burial ceremony was held privately on 20 September, at the Church of Ersta in Stockholm. Lindh's grave is in the cemetery of the nearby Katarina Kyrka. Many thousands of roses and candles were placed both at Rosenbad (the government building) and outside NK, where she was murdered. Abroad, hundreds of thousands of flowers and candles were left at Swedish embassies and consulates by mourners.
The meeting room number 50.4 on the fifth floor of the Justus Lipsius European Council building in Brussels was named Anna Lindh in her honour. Likewise, committee room 1A 002 in the Paul Henri Spaak building of the European Parliament in Brussels was called the Anna Lindh Room in memory of her.
The Anna Lindh Professorship of Practice of Global Leadership and Public Policy at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, was established in her memory. Human-rights advocate Samantha Power was the inaugural appointee in 2006.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Anna Lindh|
- Anna Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for the Dialogue Between Cultures
- Government of Sweden
- Referendums in Sweden
- Anna Lindh Memorial Fund
- Här står Mijailovic på Leijonborgs valmöte i Stockholm (Swedish for "Mijailovic at Leijonborg's election rally in Stockholm") at Aftonbladet, 13 January 2004
- Gavel, D. Power named first Anna Lindh Professor at Harvard University Gazette, 14 September 2006
|Swedish Minister for the Environment
|Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs