Sunday, June 17, 2012

Long-overdue Acceptance Speech

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi received two standing ovations on Saturday as she gave her long-overdue acceptance speech to the Norwegian Nobel Committee in front of Norway's King Harald, Queen Sonja and 600 dignitaries.

The 66-year-old had been unable to collect the prize as she feared she would not be allowed back into her home country. She said her 1991 Nobel award had saved her from the depths of personal despair while also drawing the attention of the world to the struggle for democracy and human rights in Myanmar.

"Often during my days of house arrest, it felt as though I were no longer a part of the real world," she said, during her 40-minute speech.

"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 one was a different planet pursuing its own separate course in an indifferent universe.

"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."

Since winning freedom in 2010, she has led her National League for Democracy party into opposition in Myanmar's parliament, offered cautious support for the first tentative steps toward democratic reform in her country. She explained that progress depended on continued foreign pressure on the army-backed government. "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 had said.

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