Twenty-one years after she was first awarded it, Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has finally received her Nobel Peace Prize.

Ms Suu Kyi has spent much of the past two decades under political house arrest, before being finally released in 2010.

Despite the sweeping reforms that have accompanied her release Ms Suu Kyi said that full political freedom in her country was still a long way off.

“Absolute peace in our world is an unattainable goal,” Suu Kyi said in her acceptance speech during her first trip to Europe in nearly 25 years.

Twenty-one years after she was first awarded it, Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has finally received her Nobel Peace Prize.

Ms Suu Kyi has spent much of the past two decades under political house arrest, before being finally released in 2010.

Despite the sweeping reforms that have accompanied her release Ms Suu Kyi said that full political freedom in her country was still a long way off.

“Absolute peace in our world is an unattainable goal,” Suu Kyi said in her acceptance speech during her first trip to Europe in nearly 25 years.

“Hostilities have not ceased in the far north (of Burma); to the west, communal violence resulting in arson and murder were taking place just several days before I started out the journey that has brought me here today.”

Ms Suu Kyi, the Oxford University-educated daughter of General Aung San, Myanmar’s assassinated independence hero, advocated caution about transformation in Burma, whose quasi-civilian government continues to hold political prisoners.

“There still remain such prisoners in Burma. It is to be feared that because the best known detainees have been released, the remainder, the unknown ones, will be forgotten,” Ms Suu Kyi, 66, told a packed Oslo City Hall.

A day earlier, she arrived from Switzerland to a jubilant reception as dancing and chanting crowds filled Oslo’s streets and showered her with flowers.

Ms Suu Kyi, who spent a total of 15 years under house arrest between 1989 and her release in late 2010, never left Burma even during brief periods of freedom after 1989, afraid the military would not let back in.

Her sons, Kim and Alexander had accepted the Nobel prize on her behalf in 1991, with her husband Michael Aris also attending the ceremony. A year later Ms Suu Kyi announced she would use the $1.3 million prize money to establish a health and education trust for Burmese people.

She was unable to be with Aris, an Oxford academic, when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and died in Britain in 1999.

Instrumental role

Ms Suu Kyi, who was elected to parliament in April, thanked Norway – a tiny Nordic nation of just 5 million people – for its support and the instrumental role it played in Burma’s transformation.

In 1990, the Bergen-based Rafto Foundation awarded its annual prize to Ms Suu Kyi, a little-known activist at the time, after a Norwegian aid worker in South-East Asia highlighted her work.

The award provided lasting publicity for her non-violent struggle against the country’s military junta, putting her in the international spotlight and setting the stage a year later for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Norway has also provided a home to the Democratic Voice of Burma, an opposition television and radio outlet, which broadcasts uncensored news into Burma, in much the same way Radio Free Europe did behind the Iron Curtain decades earlier.

During her acceptance speech, Ms Suu Kyi skirted the issue of sectarian violence between Rakhine Buddhists and stateless Muslim Rohingyas, which has tested Burma’s 15-month-old government.

“We hope ceasefire agreements will lead to political settlements founded on the aspirations of the people, and the spirit of union,” she said.

The violence, which displaced 30,000 people and killed 29 by government accounts, stems from an entrenched, long-standing distrust of around 800,000 Muslim Rohingyas, who do not even hold citizenship, and much of Burma’s public regards them as illegal immigrants.

The crisis has also put Burma’s president Thein Sein in a tight spot. His government is under pressure from rights groups and Western countries to show compassion towards the Rohingyas but a policy shift risks angering the public.

Reuters

Topics: world-politics, government-and-politics, norway, burma

First posted June 16, 2012 22:29:44

Highlights of Suu Kyi’s Nobel Peace Prize speech

The Associated Press

Date: Saturday Jun. 16, 2012 8:33 AM ET

OSLO, Norway — Aung San Suu Kyi’s Nobel Peace Prize speech explored her views on the ideals of peace, the seeds of war, the bonds of our common humanity, and the rare power of kindness. Here are the highlights.

POWER OF THE PEACE PRIZE

“Often during my days of house arrest it felt as though I were no longer a part of the real world.” Winning the Nobel Peace Prize “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.”

IGNORING OTHERS’ SUFFERING FUELS WAR

“The First World War represented a terrifying waste of youth and potential, a cruel squandering of the positive forces of our planet. … And for what? Nearly a century on, we have yet to find a satisfactory answer. Are we not still guilty, if to a less violent degree, of recklessness, of improvidence with regard to our future and our humanity? War is not the only arena where peace is done to death. Wherever suffering is ignored, there will be the seeds of conflict, for suffering degrades and embitters and enrages.

WE LIVE IN AN ENLIGHTENED AGE

“We are fortunate to be living in an age when social welfare and humanitarian assistance are recognized not only as desirable but necessary. I am fortunate to be living in an age when the fate of prisoners of conscience anywhere has become the concern of peoples everywhere, an age when democracy and human rights are widely, even if not universally, accepted as the birthright of all.”

PERFECT PEACE MUST BE OUR GOAL

“Absolute peace in our world is an unattainable goal. But it is one towards which we must continue to journey, our eyes fixed on it as a traveler in a desert fixes his eyes on the one guiding star that will lead him to salvation. Even if we do not achieve perfect peace on earth, because perfect peace is not of this earth, common endeavors to gain peace will unite individuals and nations in trust and friendship and help to make our human community safer and kinder.”

THE PEACEMAKING POWER OF KINDNESS

“Of the sweets of adversity, and let me say that these are not numerous, I have found the sweetest, the most precious of all, is the lesson I learnt on the value of kindness. Every kindness I received, small or big, convinced me that there could never be enough of it in our world. To be kind is to respond with sensitivity and human warmth to the hopes and needs of others. Even the briefest touch of kindness can lighten a heavy heart. Kindness can change the lives of people.”

IMAGINING A WORLD WITHOUT REFUGEES

“Ultimately our aim should be to create a world free from the displaced, the homeless and the hopeless, a world of which each and every corner is a true sanctuary where the inhabitants will have the freedom and the capacity to live in peace. Every thought, every word, and every action that adds to the positive and the wholesome is a contribution to peace. Each and every one of us is capable of making such a contribution. Let us join hands to try to create a peaceful world where we can sleep in security and wake in happiness.”

Read more: http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/World/20120616/highlights-suu-kyi-nobel-prize-speech-120616/#ixzz1xxcBdGdJ

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *