Aung San Suu Kyi Gives Long-Overdue Nobel Speech | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
Filed Under:

Aung San Suu Kyi Gives Long-Overdue Nobel Speech

Play associated audio

Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, the opposition leader of Myanmar, also known as Burma, spoke in Norway Saturday, formally accepting the peace prize she was awarded in 1991 while under house arrest. Her supporters portrayed the moment as a belated victory for democracy and human rights.

Introducing Suu Kyi, Norwegian Nobel Committee Chairman Thorbjorn Jagland hailed her as a champion of mankind, whose words give hope to the world. He added that his committee was right to award her the prize, and that thanks to people like her, democratic states will always prevail over autocratic ones.

"The democracies of the world should not despair today when they see authoritarian regimes outpacing their economic growth," Jagland said. "This is temporary [and] the regimes will be broken apart by inner contradictions if they do not reform themselves."

When Suu Kyi was awarded the prize in 1991, she was still under house arrest. So her husband Michael Aris and two sons, Kim and Alexander, accepted the prize for her.

In explaining the prize's meaning to her, Suu Kyi said that it had helped to pull her out of reality-distorting isolation, and focused attention to her people's struggle against dictatorship.

She appealed for help in freeing the remaining Burmese political prisoners who were not included in several recent amnesties granted by the government.

"I am standing here because I was once a prisoner of conscience," Suu Kyi said. "As you look at me and listen to me, please remember the often repeated truth that one prisoner of conscience is one too many.

"Those who have not yet been given access to the benefits of justice in my country number much more than one. Please remember them and do whatever is possible to affect their earliest, unconditional release," she said.

Suu Kyi recalled how her ordeal prompted her to examine notions of suffering within her Buddhist faith, and the plight of the world's refugees, migrants and victims of human trafficking.

"I thought of that great mass of the uprooted of the earth who have been torn away from their homes, parted from families and friends [and] forced to live out their lives among strangers who are not always welcoming," she said.

Those words could well describe Burma's Muslim Rohingya minority. Their recent clashes with Buddhists in western Rakhine State have left at least 50 dead and thousands displaced. Myanmar's government refuses to recognize Rohingyas as citizens and Suu Kyi has not taken a clear stand on the issue.

Suu Kyi's European victory lap will take her on to Ireland, the United Kingdom and France. The international support she garners there will be important, but the real test of her political skills comes when she returns home at the end of the month and begins her new job as a member of Parliament.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Director Mike Nichols Remembered As A Comedian, Raconteur, Charmer

Robert Siegel remembers director and film icon Mike Nichols, who died Wednesday of a heart attack at 83.
NPR

Moderate Drinker Or Alcoholic? Many Americans Fall In Between

A study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that 1 in 3 adults drinks excessively. That means eight or more drinks per week for women, and 15 or more drinks a week for men.
NPR

'I Will Not Sit Idly By' And Other Congressional Tweets On Immigration

Congress is out of session until the first week of December, so many members are weighing in on the president's speech on Twitter and other platforms — with mixed reactions.
NPR

Keep Your Head Up: 'Text Neck' Takes A Toll On The Spine

Newly published research finds that common texting posture can put as much as 60 pounds of force on the cervical spine.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.