1. ITV Report

Aung San Suu Kyi makes Nobel acceptance speech

Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi makes her speech in Oslo. Photo: Reuters

Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has said the Nobel Peace Prize she won while under house arrest 21 years ago helped to shatter her sense of isolation and ensured that the world would demand democracy in her military-controlled homeland.

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

She said: "Often during my days of house arrest it felt as though I were no longer a part of the real world."

Receiving the Nobel accolade in 1991 "made me real once again", she added.

Ms 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, Ms Suu Kyi explored her views on the ideals of peace, the causes of war, the bonds of common humanity and the power of kindness.

She told the committee: "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?

"Nearly a century on, we have yet to find a satisfactory answer.

"Are we not still guilty, if to a less violent degree, of recklessness, of improvidence with regard to our future and our humanity? War is not the only arena where peace is done to death. Wherever suffering is ignored, there will be the seeds of conflict, for suffering degrades and embitters and enrages."

Aung San Suu Kyi arrives at the Nobel Institute in Oslo. Credit: Reuters

Ms Suu Kyi then went on to hail an enlightened age in which basic human rights are widely accepted.

She said: "We are fortunate to be living in an age when social welfare and humanitarian assistance are recognised not only as desirable but necessary.

"I am fortunate to be living in an age when the fate of prisoners of conscience anywhere has become the concern of peoples everywhere, an age when democracy and human rights are widely, even if not universally, accepted as the birthright of all."

And she set peace as a common goal for humanity: "Absolute peace in our world is an unattainable goal. 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."

Ms Suu Kyi's late husband and two sons collected the Nobel Peace Prize on her behalf in 1991 as she feared if she left Burma, she would not be allowed to return.

The 66-year-old champion of democracy is being feted this month in European capitals after spending most of the past two decades kept under house arrest by Burma's military-backed dictatorship.

When collecting the prize, Ms Suu Kyi's eldest son Alexander, then 18, gave a speech.

He told the gathering in Oslo, his mother accepted the Nobel Peace Prize not in her own name but "in the name of all those men, women and children who...continue to sacrifice their well-being, their freedom and their lives in the pursuit of a democratic Burma."