Birgitta Dahl

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Birgitta Dahl
Birgitta Dahl 1990.jpg
Speaker of the Parliament of Sweden
In office
3 October 1994 – 30 September 2002
Monarch Carl XVI Gustaf
Preceded by Ingegerd Troedsson
Succeeded by Björn von Sydow
Minister for the Environment
In office
12 March 1986 – 4 October 1991
Prime Minister Ingvar Carlsson
Preceded by Ingvar Carlsson
Succeeded by Olof Johansson
Minister for Energy
In office
8 October 1982 – 27 February 1990
Prime Minister Olof Palme
Ingvar Carlsson
Preceded by Carl-Axel Petri
Succeeded by Rune Molin
Personal details
Born (1937-09-20) 20 September 1937 (age 80)
Råda, Härryda Municipality, Västra Götaland County, Sweden
Political party Social Democrat
Alma mater Uppsala University

Rut Birgitta Dahl (born 20 September 1937) is a Swedish former politician of the Social Democratic Party.

Education and career[edit]

Birgitta Dahl was born in Råda, Härryda Municipality, Västra Götaland County. She earned a B.A. at Uppsala University in 1960. During her studies she was politically active in the Uppsala Student Union. She worked as a senior administrative officer at the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency from 1965 to 1982, as a course assistant at the Swedish North Africa Institute from 1964 to 1965, at the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation from 1965 to 1967, and as chairman of the Swedish Committee for Vietnam from 1971 to 1977. From 1980 to 1981 she served as a Swedish delegate to the United Nations.

Dahl was elected a Member of Parliament from 1969 to 2002 (until 1970 as a member of the lower house), Minister for Energy Affairs from 1982 to 1990, Minister for the Environment from 1986 to 1991, and Speaker of the Parliament from 1994 to 2002. Since 2005 she is chairman of the Swedish section of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

Khmer Rouge controversy[edit]

From 1971 to 1977, while also serving as a Member of Parliament, Dahl was chairman of the Swedish Committee for Vietnam (from 1975 known as the Swedish Committee for Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia). During the period of 1975 to 1979, when Cambodia was ruled by the government of Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge party, approximately 1.7 million Cambodians were killed through the combined result of political executions, starvation, and forced labor (see Khmer Rouge period (1975–1979). In 1976, Dahl participated in a debate in Sveriges Radio about the situation in Cambodia, where she said among other things:

Everyone knows that much – or maybe even most – of what is now being said and written about Cambodia are lies and speculation.
It was completely necessary to evacuate Phnom Penh. It was necessary to rapidly start the production of provisions and it would require large sacrifices from the population.
But that's not what currently is our problem. The problem is that we really don't have knowledge, direct testimonies, in order to reject all lies that are spread by the enemies of Cambodia.[1]

Dahl reiterated these views in an article in the journal Vietnam Nu (published by the Swedish Committee for Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia) in 1977.[2]

In 1997, Per Ahlmark's book An Open Sore (Swedish: Det öppna såret) was published. In the book, Ahlmark among other things questioned Dahl's appropriateness as Speaker of the Parliament due to her past statements about the Khmer Rouge regime.[3] In the debate that ensued, Dahl made a public apology in Dagens Nyheter in which she wrote:

The problem was that I – and others – at the same time yet believed that much of what had been written about Cambodia were lies and speculation. We believed – incorrectly – that it was part of the propaganda to accuse the new regime in Cambodia of even worse crimes that had previously been committed. I also had a hard time imagining that something as shocking could be true. Therefore, there are some statements by me that I deeply regret. Ever since the terrible truth became clear to me, I've been in pain that I didn't fast enough grasped and repudiated the cruelties of the Pol Pot regime.[4]

During a debate hosted by ABF in Stockholm in 2005 about the revolutions in Cambodia and Vietnam, Dahl said, according to the author Peter Fröberg Idling: "The claim that we supported Pol Pot is a lie".[5]

Personal life[edit]

Birgitta Dahl is married to Enn Kokk since 1986. She has three children. One of her daughters, Anna Kettner, is also a former Social Democratic politician.


  1. ^ "OBS-Kulturkvarten". 1976-11-10. Sveriges Radio.  Missing or empty |series= (help)
  2. ^ Dahl, Birgitta (1977). Vietnam Nu (in Swedish) (2).  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ Ahlmark, Per (1997). Det öppna såret : om massmord och medlöperi (in Swedish). Stockholm: Timbro. pp. 378–380. ISBN 91-7566-326-0. 
  4. ^ Dahl, Birgitta (23 August 1997). "n/a" (in Swedish). Dagens Nyheter. 
  5. ^ Fröberg Idling, Peter (2006). Pol Pots leende : om en svensk resa genom röda khmerernas Kambodja (in Swedish). Stockholm: Atlas. p. 271. ISBN 91-7389-204-1. 
Political offices
Preceded by
Carl-Axel Petri
Minister for Energy Affairs
Succeeded by
Rune Molin
Preceded by
Ingvar Carlsson
Minister for the Environment
Succeeded by
Olof Johansson
Preceded by
Ingegerd Troedsson
Speaker of the Parliament of Sweden
Succeeded by
Björn von Sydow