Aung San Suu Kyi Says Nobel Prize Helped Her Reconnect

Posted June 16th, 2012 at 10:10 am (UTC-5)
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Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi says the Nobel Peace Prize opened a door in her heart and helped extend her concern for democracy and human rights beyond her country's national borders.

The opposition leader called for the release of all political prisoners as she delivered her Nobel lecture in Norway on Saturday – 21 years after she was awarded the peace prize. She was under house arrest in Burma in 1991, and her husband and sons accepted the honor in her name at the time.

Aung San Suu Kyi said house arrest isolated her from the outside world, but the Nobel Prize helped her reconnect with the international community.

Although the process of political reform has begun in Burma, she said she there are still political prisoners in her homeland, and she worries they may be overlooked now that other, better-known prisoners have been released.

“One prisoner of conscience is one too many,” Aung San Suu Kyi said, to strong applause from her audience in the Norwegian capital.

She said her long struggle for democracy and freedom taught her the power of kindness. Wherever suffering is ignored, Aung San Suu Kyi said, “seeds of conflict” will be planted, because suffering “degrades and embitters and enrages” those who experience it.

Aung San Suu Kyi also expressed her concern Saturday for recent violent clashes in Burma's northern and western regions. As her 17-day tour of Europe progresses, she will address the British Parliament, visit France and receive an Amnesty International human-rights award in Dublin from rock star Bono.

Aung San Suu Kyi was released from house arrest in late 2010, as a period of political change began in Burma following half a century of military rule. A new, nominally civilian government was elected in November 2010 and took office four months later. After her release, Aung San Suu Kyi resumed active leadership of the National League for Democracy, which she co-founded, and won election to an open seat in parliament in April of this year.