Emotional Aung San Suu Kyi accepts Nobel Peace Prize
Burmese democracy campaigner delivers personal and touching address in Oslo
BURMESE democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi yesterday finally delivered her acceptance speech for the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize, 21 years after she was awarded the honour in what was described as "one of the most remarkable" moments in the history of the Nobel prizes.
Suu Kyi has spent much of the past 24 years under house arrest in Burma, but was finally released in 2010. She travelled to Norway on a tour of Europe to deliver her speech.
She told the packed hall in Oslo that being awarded the prize in 1991 had helped combat her sense of isolation and made her feel "real" again. It also reassured her that the Burmese democracy movement had not been forgotten by the rest of the world.
"Aung San Suu Kyi stood in front of a packed hall, in which Norwegian dignitaries rubbed shoulders with Buddhist monks in saffron robes and Burmese guests in traditional costumes, to deliver her long-delayed acceptance speech in a moment of high emotion," reported The Observer.
"She made a wide-ranging, deeply personal lecture, which touched on her feelings of isolation under house arrest, the Buddhist concept of suffering, human rights and her hopes and fears for her country's future, and the importance of the peace prize itself."
Suu Kyi appeared overwhelmed by her reception. The Times reported that she "looked emotional as she received a thunderous standing ovation in the cavernous Oslo City Hall".
But her speech was "modest, personal and touching, an appeal to find practical ways to reduce the inextinguishable suffering of the world," said the New York Times.
And her performance illustrated why she is so respected, said The Independent on Sunday. "Speaking to a packed, hushed hall [she]... reminded us why her name is so often spoken in the same breath as Mahatma Gandhi's and Martin Luther King's."
But the paper noted that while she is feted overseas her homeland is still in turmoil as violence flares between Muslims and Buddhists in the west of the country. "Yet for all the pomp and circumstance of this historic event, the music of violin and Burmese harp, and the benevolent smiles of the Norwegian worthies, the world of suffering – the world that had induced her to throw herself into Burma's democracy movement – was not kept long at bay."
Suu Kyi will visit Britain this week, but it will be a "bittersweet" visit says the Washington Post. She left her husband, who died in 1999, and two sons in Oxford in 1988 to travel to Burma to care for her mother, and has not returned since.