When she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, while under house arrest in Myanmar, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said Saturday, she realized that the Burmese “were not going to be forgotten.”
When the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded her the prize, she said in her Nobel lecture here on Saturday, 21 years later, it was recognition that “the oppressed and the isolated in Burma were also a part of the world, they were recognizing the oneness of humanity.” But “it did not seem quite real, because in a sense I did not feel myself to be quite real at that time,” she said. “The Nobel Peace Prize opened up a door in my heart.”
She said the prize “had made me real once again; it had drawn me back into the wider human community,” and it had given the oppressed people of Burma, now Myanmar, and its dispersed refugees, new hope. “To be forgotten,” Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi added, “is to die a little.” In a quiet, throaty voice on Saturday she asked the world not to forget other prisoners of conscience, both in Myanmar and around the world, other refugees, others in need, who may be suffering twice over, she said, from oppression and from the larger world’s “compassion fatigue.”
It was a remarkable moment for the slight Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, who turns 67 next week and is now a member of Parliament and the leader of Myanmar’s opposition. She dressed in shades of purple and lavender, her hair adorned with flowers. It is a gesture she makes in honor of her father, Gen. Aung San, an independence hero of Burma, who was assassinated in 1947, when she was 2, but whom she remembers threading flowers through her hair.
The audience in Oslo’s City Hall, which included the Norwegian royal family, listened raptly, applauding often, standing to clap when Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi entered the hall and when she finished her speech, which was at the same time modest, personal and touching, an appeal to find practical ways to reduce the inextinguishable suffering of the world. “Suffering degrades, embitters and enrages,” she said. “War is not the only arena where peace is done to death.”
Absolute peace is an unattainable goal, she said. “But it is one towards which we must continue to journey, our eyes fixed on it as a traveler in a desert fixes his eyes on the one guiding star that will lead him to salvation.””
The New York Times, “21 Years Later, Aung San Suu Kyi Receives Her Nobel Peace Prize.”
An amazing, inspiring person.