Suu Kyi accepts her Nobel after 21 years

Last Updated: Sat, Jun 16, 2012 19:45 hrs

After 21 long years, Nobel laureate and opposition leader of Myanmar Aung San Suu Kyi accepted her Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo on Saturday.

Her husband and her two sons accepted the Nobel on her behalf at that time as she was under house arrest in Myanmar.

She gave her Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in Norway´s Oslo City Hall on Saturday.

"As I have said repeatedly in many an interview, I heard the news that I had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on the radio one evening. It did not altogether come as a surprise because I had been mentioned as one of the frontrunners for the prize in a number of broadcasts during the previous week," Suu Kyi said in her lecture.

"While drafting this lecture, I have tried very hard to remember what my immediate reaction to the announcement of the award had been. I think, I can no longer be sure, it was something like: "Oh, so they've decided to give it to me." It did not seem quite real because in a sense I did not feel myself to be quite real at that time," she said.

She said the Nobel prize restored a sense of reality to her as she was passing through an isolated life during the house arrest.

"Often during my days of house arrest it felt as though I were no longer a part of the real world. There was the house which was my world, there was the world of others who also were not free but who were together in prison as a community, and there was the world of the free; each was a different planet pursuing its own separate course in an indifferent universe," said Suu Kyi.

"What the Nobel Peace Prize did was to draw me once again into the world of other human beings outside the isolated area in which I lived, to restore a sense of reality to me," she said.

"It had made me real once again; it had drawn me back into the wider human community. And what was more important, the Nobel Prize had drawn the attention of the world to the struggle for democracy and human rights in Burma. We were not going to be forgotten," she said.

Suu Kyi´s unrelenting fight was instrumental in bringing back democracy in the nation which only witnessed military rule for decades.

"Over the past year there have been signs that the endeavours of those who believe in democracy and human rights are beginning to bear fruit in Burma. There have been changes in a positive direction; steps towards democratization have been taken. If I advocate cautious optimism it is not because I do not have faith in the future but because I do not want to encourage blind faith," she said.

"It is because of recent changes in my country that I am with you today; and these changes have come about because of you and other lovers of freedom and justice who contributed towards a global awareness of our situation," she said.

Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy (NLD) won a landmark by-elections in Myanmar this year, as thousands of Burmese voted in her favour and relishing a taste of democracy they were denied for decades.

"My party, the National League for Democracy, and I stand ready and willing to play any role in the process of national reconciliation. The reform measures that were put into motion by President U Thein Sein's government can be sustained only with the intelligent cooperation of all internal forces: the military, our ethnic nationalities, political parties, the media, civil society organizations, the business community and, most important of all, the general public," she said.

"We can say that reform is effective only if the lives of the people are improved and in this regard, the international community has a vital role to play. Development and humanitarian aid, bi-lateral agreements and investments should be coordinated and calibrated to ensure that these will promote social, political and economic growth that is balanced and sustainable. The potential of our country is enormous," said Suu Kyi.

Speaking at the occasion, Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee Thorbjorn Jagland said: "Dear Aung San Suu Kyi, We have been waiting for you for a very long time. However, we are well aware that your wait has been infinitely trying for you and of an entirely different nature than ours. But please know this: In your isolation, you have become a moral leader for the whole world."

"Today´s event is one of the most remarkable in the entire history of the Nobel prizes. In 1991, you were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for "one of the most extraordinary examples of civil courage in Asia in recent decades," Jagland said.

"In the Committee´s opinion, the Prize would support the many people throughout the world "who are striving to attain democracy, human rights and ethnic conciliation by peaceful means," Jagland said.

Suu Kyi is currently on her trip to Europe after nearly twenty-five years.

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