Aung San Suu Kyi praises power of peace in Nobel Peace Prize speech

AUNG San Suu Kyi, the Burmese opposition leader, has spoken for the first time about how the Nobel Peace Prize she won while under house arrest 21 years ago helped to shatter her sense of isolation.

Suu Kyi spoke about her time under house arrest as she began her long-delayed acceptance speech to the Norwegian Nobel Committee.

“Often during my days of house arrest it felt as though I were no longer a part of the real world,” she said, inside Oslo City Hall.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Receiving the Nobel accolade in 1991 “made me real once again”, she added. Suu Kyi said the award cast an enduring spotlight on the struggle for political freedom in Burma.

“We were not going to be forgotten,” she said.

Throughout her speech, she explored the ideals of peace, the causes of war, the bonds of common humanity and the power of kindness.

“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?” she told the committee. “Nearly a century on, we have yet to find a satisfactory answer.”

Suu Kyi then went on to hail an enlightened age in which basic human rights are widely accepted and set peace as a common goal for humanity.

“Absolute peace in our world is an unattainable goal,” she told the audience.

“But it is one towards which we must continue to journey, our eyes fixed on it as a traveller 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 endeavours to gain peace will unite individuals and nations in trust and friendship and help to make our human community safer and kinder.

“Of the sweets of adversity - and these are not numerous - the most precious of all, is the lesson I learnt on the value of kindness. Every kindness I received, small or big, convinced me there could never be enough of it in our world. Even the briefest touch of kindness can lighten a heavy heart.”