OSLO: Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi finally accepted her 1991 Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo today after spending a total of 15 years under house arrest and said full political freedom in her country was still a long way off.
“Absolute peace in our world is an unattainable goal,” Suu Kyi said in her acceptance speech during her first trip to Europe in nearly 25 years.
“Hostilities have not ceased in the far north; to the west, communal violence resulting in arson and murder were taking place just several days before I started out the journey that has brought me here today.”
Suu Kyi, the Oxford University-educated daughter of General Aung San, Myanmar’s assassinated independence hero, advocated caution about transformation in Myanmar, whose quasi-civilian government continues to hold political prisoners.
“There still remain such prisoners in Burma. It is to be feared that because the best known detainees have been released, the remainder, the unknown ones, will be forgotten,” the 66-year-old democracy icon told a packed Oslo City Hall.
A day earlier, she arrived from Switzerland to a jubilant reception as dancing and chanting crowds filled Oslo’s streets and showered her with flowers.
Suu Kyi, who spent a total of 15 years under house arrest between 1989 and her release in late 2010, never left Myanmar even during brief periods of freedom after 1989, afraid the military would not let back in.
Ethnic violence toll 50
YANGON: Myanmar’s state media reported on Saturday that the death toll from recent communal violence in the west has increased to 50, even though the unrest was largely quelled several days ago. The New Light of Myanmar newspaper said 54 other people were injured, 78 riots broke out and 2,230 houses and buildings were destroyed by fire in the 18 days through to Thursday. It also said that there were only two riots on Thursday, which the authorities were able to handle peacefully.
The violence was a result of long-standing tensions in Rakhine State between the ethnic Rakhine community and Rohingya residents, whom many Rakhines regard as illegal immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh. The Rohingya say they are also longtime settlers in the region.