Suu Kyi To Give Nobel Speech In Norway, 21 Years Later

By: CNN, Posted by Chelsey Moran
By: CNN, Posted by Chelsey Moran


(CNN) -- Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi gives her Nobel speech in Norway on Saturday, more than two decades after she won the peace prize.

Her presence in Oslo, on a historic first trip to Europe after years of house arrest, signals the progress toward reform in Myanmar over the past year.

Suu Kyi was unable to accept the Nobel when it was awarded in 1991 because she was under house arrest in Myanmar. Her husband and two sons accepted it then on her behalf, paying tribute to her sacrifice.

Speaking to CNN's Christiane Amanpour from Oslo, Suu Kyi said the theme of her speech focuses on what the prize and peace mean to her.

"I am trying to find the answers to these questions myself. I am exploring them and I will be exploring the answers in my lecture," she said.

"My attitude to peace is rather based on the Burmese definition of peace -- it really means removing all the negative factors that destroy peace in this world. So peace does not mean just putting an end to violence or to war, but to all other factors that threaten peace, such as discrimination, such as inequality, poverty."

Norwegian Nobel Committee chairman Thorbjørn Jagland reflected on the momentous nature of the anticipated speech.

"It will be one of the greatest events in Nobel history, and it gives us the opportunity to reflect on human rights and what they require of us," Jagland said in a statement.

"Suu Kyi had the strength, after 20 years of isolation, to compromise with the generals that isolated her ... When Suu Kyi comes to Norway to deliver her Nobel lecture, she will remind us all that we need to fight using nonviolent means.

"And she will remind us that we must all make efforts to bring out the good in ourselves, to stand up for something at a higher level and closer to home."

While in Europe, Suu Kyi is also scheduled to address both houses of the British Parliament, be the guest of honor at a concert in Dublin, Ireland, and celebrate her 67th birthday with family.

The trip is Suu Kyi's second abroad since she returned to Myanmar, also known as Burma, in 1988 to care for her dying mother, and comes on the heels of her first trip outside the country earlier this year.

Suu Kyi was recently elected to parliament as her National League for Democracy won dozens of seats in by-elections. It remains a minority in parliament, but the elections marked a turning point for the country after decades of oppression by its military rulers.

A military coup in September 1988 put Gen. Saw Maung in power, setting off anti-government demonstrations and a crackdown that left hundreds dead.

Suu Kyi -- whose husband, Michael Aris, remained in England -- became a leading activist and co-founder of an opposition group, the National League for Democracy. She was placed under house arrest for the first time the following July on charges of trying to divide the military. She spent much of the next two decades confined to her home by the ruling junta.

When her party won the 1990 general election in a landslide vote, the military rulers -- in power since 1962 -- refused to let the National League for Democracy serve, nullifying the results.

A year later, Suu Kyi won the European Parliament's Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought as well as the Nobel Peace Prize, which cited her "nonviolent struggle for democracy and human rights." But she remained in detention.

Accepting the prize at the time on his mother's behalf, Alexander Aris said, "I personally believe that, by her own dedication and personal sacrifice, she has come to be a worthy symbol through whom the plight of all the people of Burma may be recognized."

The military rulers have since loosened their grip on power, allowing a series of democratic reforms. Her house arrest ended in 2010, and she was able to travel around the country during her party's election campaign this year.

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