Aung San Suu Kyi accepts Nobel Peace Prize

Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi delivers her acceptance speech at Oslo City Hall on June 16, 2012 in Norway.
Ragnar Singsaas

Myanmar opposition leader and pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi has delivered her acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize she was awarded 21 years ago.

The 66-year-old human rights campaigner received a standing ovation as she entered a packed city hall in the Norwegian capital, Oslo, on Saturday, as part of a two-week tour of Europe during which Suu Kyi will also visit the UK, Ireland and France, The Los Angeles Times reported.

Addressing the crowd, Suu Kyi said winning the prize in 1991 “made me real once again. It had drawn me back into the wider human community.” She added that the award had focused global attention on the battle for human rights and democracy in Mynamar and ensured “we were not going to be forgotten,” according to the BBC.

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Last month the National League for Democracy (NLD) leader was granted her first passport in 24 years – a period during which she spent large periods under house arrest in the city of Yangon, after arriving in 1988 to visit her ill mother and subsequently becoming the focal point for the country's nascent democracy movement. She decided not to leave Myanmar to collect her prize three years later for fear that the authorities would refuse to let her re-enter the country.

Suu Kyi, who led the NLD to a landslide 43-seat victory in by-elections on April 1, was released from her most recent confinement in November 2010, and arrived in Norway on Friday from Geneva. According to The Guardian, her acceptance speech on Saturday explored a number of different themes, including the isolation she felt while kept under house arrest, human rights, and her hopes and concerns for the future of Myanmar. She also used the address to highlight the plight of political prisoners still held by the authorities, saying:

"It is to be feared that because the best known detainees have been released, the remainder, the unknown ones, will be forgotten."

Suu Kyi’s release and her decision to travel overseas is viewed as a sign of her confidence in the government of President Thein Sein, who initiated reforms after taking power last year.  

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