Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi accepted her Nobel Peace Prize today, 21 years after it was awarded.
She said that the award had helped to shatter her sense of isolation and ensured that the world would demand democracy in her military-controlled homeland. Before 600 dignitaries including European royalty, she praised the power of her 1991 Nobel honor both for saving her from the depths of personal despair and shining an enduring spotlight on injustices in distant Myanmar.
“Often during my days of house arrest, it felt as though I were no longer a part of the real world,” she said to a silent chamber, which was lined with rainbows of freshly cut zinnias and towers of orchids and gladiolas. “There was the house which was my world. There was the world of others who also were not free but who were together in prison as a community. And there was the world of the free. Each one was a different planet pursuing its own separate course in an indifferent universe.
“What the Nobel Peace Prize did was to draw me once again into the world of other human beings, outside the isolated area in which I lived, to restore a sense of reality to me. … And what was more important, the Nobel Prize had drawn the attention of the world to the struggle for democracy and human rights in Burma. We were not going to be forgotten,” she said.
Suu Kyi praised the value of simple, every-day acts of human kindness as the most powerful force in promoting peace anywhere. ” Every kindness I received, small or big,” she said, referring to her 15 years of house arrest or imprisonment, “convinced me that there could never be enough of it in our world.”