Thursday, Jul 02nd, 2020 - 07:21:00

Video

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi: Nobel Peace Prize Speech (2012)

'Your Majesties, Your Royal Highness, Excellencies, Distinguished members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Dear Friends... Long years ago, sometimes it seems many lives ago, I was at Oxford listening to the radio programme Desert Island Discs with my young son Alexander. It was a well-known programme (for all I know it still continues) on which famous people from all walks of life were invited to talk about the eight discs, the one book beside the bible and the complete works of Shakespeare, and the one luxury item they would wish to have with them were they to be marooned on a desert island. At the end of the programme, which we had both enjoyed, Alexander asked me if I thought I might ever be invited to speak on Desert Island Discs. “Why not?” I responded lightly. Since he knew that in general only celebrities took part in the programme he proceeded to ask, with genuine interest, for what reason I thought I might be invited. I considered this for a moment and then answered: “Perhaps because I’d have won the Nobel Prize for literature,” and we both laughed. The prospect seemed pleasant but hardly probable. (I cannot now remember why I gave that answer, perhaps because I had recently read a book by a Nobel Laureate or perhaps because the Desert Island celebrity of that day had been a famous writer.) In 1989, when my late husband Michael Aris came to see me during my first term of house arrest, he told me that a friend, John Finnis, had nominated me for the Nobel Peace Prize. This time also I laughed. For an instant Michael looked amazed, then he realized why I was amused. The Nobel Peace Prize? A pleasant prospect, but quite improbable! So how did I feel when I was actually awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace? The question has been put to me many times and this is surely the most appropriate occasion on which to examine what the Nobel Prize means to me and what peace means to me.

As I have said repeatedly in many an interview, I heard the news that I had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on the radio one evening. It did not altogether come as a surprise because I had been mentioned as one of the frontrunners for the prize in a number of broadcasts during the previous week. While drafting this lecture, I have tried very hard to remember what my immediate reaction to the announcement of the award had been. I think, I can no longer be sure, it was something like: “Oh, so they’ve decided to give it to me.” It did not seem quite real because in a sense I did not feel myself to be quite real at that time. Often during my days of house arrest it felt as though I were no longer a part of the real world. 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 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. This did not happen instantly, of course, but as the days and months went by and news of reactions to the award came over the airwaves, I began to understand the significance of the Nobel Prize. It had made me real once again; it had drawn me back into the wider human community. 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. To be forgotten. The French say that to part is to die a little. To be forgotten too is to die a little. It is to lose some of the links that anchor us to the rest of humanity. When I met Burmese migrant workers and refugees during my recent visit to Thailand, many cried out: “Don’t forget us!” They meant: “don’t forget our plight, don’t forget to do what you can to help us, don’t forget we also belong to your world.” When the Nobel Committee awarded the Peace Prize to me they were recognizing that the oppressed and the isolated in Burma were also a part of the world, they were recognizing the oneness of humanity. So for me receiving the Nobel Peace Prize means personally extending my concerns for democracy and human rights beyond national borders. The Nobel Peace Prize opened up a door in my heart.

The Burmese concept of peace can be explained as the happiness arising from the cessation of factors that militate against the harmonious and the wholesome. The word nyein-chan translates literally as the beneficial coolness that comes when a fire is extinguished. Fires of suffering and strife are raging around the world. In my own country, 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 on the journey that has brought me here today. News of atrocities in other reaches of the earth abound. Reports of hunger, disease, displacement, joblessness, poverty, injustice, discrimination, prejudice, bigotry; these are our daily fare. Everywhere there are negative forces eating away at the foundations of peace. Everywhere can be found thoughtless dissipation of material and human resources that are necessary for the conservation of harmony and happiness in our world. The First World War represented a terrifying waste of youth and potential, a cruel squandering of the positive forces of our planet. The poetry of that era has a special significance for me because I first read it at a time when I was the same age as many of those young men who had to face the prospect of withering before they had barely blossomed. A young American fighting with the French Foreign Legion wrote before he was killed in action in 1916 that he would meet his death: “at some disputed barricade;” “on some scarred slope of battered hill;” “at midnight in some flaming town.” Youth and love and life perishing forever in senseless attempts to capture nameless, unremembered places. 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.

A positive aspect of living in isolation was that I had ample time in which to ruminate over the meaning of words and precepts that I had known and accepted all my life. As a Buddhist, I had heard about dukha, generally translated as suffering, since I was a small child. Almost on a daily basis elderly, and sometimes not so elderly, people around me would murmur “dukha, dukha” when they suffered from aches and pains or when they met with some small, annoying mishaps. However, it was only during my years of house arrest that I got around to investigating the nature of the six great dukha. These are: to be conceived, to age, to sicken, to die, to be parted from those one loves, to be forced to live in propinquity with those one does not love. I examined each of the six great sufferings, not in a religious context but in the context of our ordinary, everyday lives. If suffering were an unavoidable part of our existence, we should try to alleviate it as far as possible in practical, earthly ways. I mulled over the effectiveness of ante- and post-natal programmes and mother and childcare; of adequate facilities for the aging population; of comprehensive health services; of compassionate nursing and hospices. I was particularly intrigued by the last two kinds of suffering: to be parted from those one loves and to be forced to live in propinquity with those one does not love. What experiences might our Lord Buddha have undergone in his own life that he had included these two states among the great sufferings? I thought of prisoners and refugees, of migrant workers and victims of human trafficking, of that great mass of the uprooted of the earth who have been torn away from their homes, parted from families and friends, forced to live out their lives among strangers who are not always welcoming.

We are fortunate to be living in an age when social welfare and humanitarian assistance are recognized 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. How often during my years under house arrest have I drawn strength from my favourite passages in the preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

+ "Disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspirations of the common people..."

+ "It is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law..."

If I am asked why I am fighting for human rights in Burma the above passages will provide the answer. If I am asked why I am fighting for democracy in Burma, it is because I believe that democratic institutions and practices are necessary for the guarantee of human rights.

Over the past year there have been signs that the endeavours of those who believe in democracy and human rights are beginning to bear fruit in Burma. There have been changes in a positive direction; steps towards democratization have been taken. If I advocate cautious optimism it is not because I do not have faith in the future but because I do not want to encourage blind faith. Without faith in the future, without the conviction that democratic values and fundamental human rights are not only necessary but possible for our society, our movement could not have been sustained throughout the destroying years. Some of our warriors fell at their post, some deserted us, but a dedicated core remained strong and committed. At times when I think of the years that have passed, I am amazed that so many remained staunch under the most trying circumstances. Their faith in our cause is not blind; it is based on a clear-eyed assessment of their own powers of endurance and a profound respect for the aspirations of our people. It is because of recent changes in my country that I am with you today; and these changes have come about because of you and other lovers of freedom and justice who contributed towards a global awareness of our situation. Before continuing to speak of my country, may I speak out for our prisoners of conscience. 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. I am standing here because I was once a prisoner of conscience. As you look at me and listen to me, please remember the often repeated truth that one prisoner of conscience is one too many. Those who have not yet been freed, those who have not yet been given access to the benefits of justice in my country number much more than one. Please remember them and do whatever is possible to effect their earliest, unconditional release.

Burma is a country of many ethnic nationalities and faith in its future can be founded only on a true spirit of union. Since we achieved independence in 1948, there never has been a time when we could claim the whole country was at peace. We have not been able to develop the trust and understanding necessary to remove causes of conflict. Hopes were raised by ceasefires that were maintained from the early 1990s until 2010 when these broke down over the course of a few months. One unconsidered move can be enough to remove long-standing ceasefires. In recent months, negotiations between the government and ethnic nationality forces have been making progress. We hope that ceasefire agreements will lead to political settlements founded on the aspirations of the peoples, and the spirit of union. My party, the National League for Democracy, and I stand ready and willing to play any role in the process of national reconciliation. The reform measures that were put into motion by President U Thein Sein’s government can be sustained only with the intelligent cooperation of all internal forces: the military, our ethnic nationalities, political parties, the media, civil society organizations, the business community and, most important of all, the general public. We can say that reform is effective only if the lives of the people are improved and in this regard, the international community has a vital role to play. Development and humanitarian aid, bi-lateral agreements and investments should be coordinated and calibrated to ensure that these will promote social, political and economic growth that is balanced and sustainable. The potential of our country is enormous. This should be nurtured and developed to create not just a more prosperous but also a more harmonious, democratic society where our people can live in peace, security and freedom.

The peace of our world is indivisible. As long as negative forces are getting the better of positive forces anywhere, we are all at risk. It may be questioned whether all negative forces could ever be removed. The simple answer is: “No!” It is in human nature to contain both the positive and the negative. However, it is also within human capability to work to reinforce the positive and to minimize or neutralize the negative. 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. I used the word ‘kinder’ after careful deliberation; I might say the careful deliberation of many years. Of the sweets of adversity, and let me say that these are not numerous, I have found the sweetest, the most precious of all, is the lesson I learnt on the value of kindness. Every kindness I received, small or big, convinced me that there could never be enough of it in our world. To be kind is to respond with sensitivity and human warmth to the hopes and needs of others. Even the briefest touch of kindness can lighten a heavy heart. Kindness can change the lives of people. Norway has shown exemplary kindness in providing a home for the displaced of the earth, offering sanctuary to those who have been cut loose from the moorings of security and freedom in their native lands.

There are refugees in all parts of the world. When I was at the Maela refugee camp in Thailand recently, I met dedicated people who were striving daily to make the lives of the inmates as free from hardship as possible. They spoke of their concern over ‘donor fatigue,’ which could also translate as ‘compassion fatigue.’ ‘Donor fatigue’ expresses itself precisely in the reduction of funding. ‘Compassion fatigue’ expresses itself less obviously in the reduction of concern. One is the consequence of the other. Can we afford to indulge in compassion fatigue? Is the cost of meeting the needs of refugees greater than the cost that would be consequent on turning an indifferent, if not a blind, eye on their suffering? I appeal to donors the world over to fulfill the needs of these people who are in search, often it must seem to them a vain search, of refuge. At Maela, I had valuable discussions with Thai officials responsible for the administration of Tak province where this and several other camps are situated. They acquainted me with some of the more serious problems related to refugee camps: violation of forestry laws, illegal drug use, home brewed spirits, the problems of controlling malaria, tuberculosis, dengue fever and cholera. The concerns of the administration are as legitimate as the concerns of the refugees. Host countries also deserve consideration and practical help in coping with the difficulties related to their responsibilities. Ultimately our aim should be to create a world free from the displaced, the homeless and the hopeless, a world of which each and every corner is a true sanctuary where the inhabitants will have the freedom and the capacity to live in peace. Every thought, every word, and every action that adds to the positive and the wholesome is a contribution to peace. Each and every one of us is capable of making such a contribution. Let us join hands to try to create a peaceful world where we can sleep in security and wake in happiness.

The Nobel Committee concluded its statement of 14 October 1991 with the words: “In awarding the Nobel Peace Prize ... to Aung San Suu Kyi, the Norwegian Nobel Committee wishes to honour this woman for her unflagging efforts and to show its support for the many people throughout the world who are striving to attain democracy, human rights and ethnic conciliation by peaceful means.” When I joined the democracy movement in Burma it never occurred to me that I might ever be the recipient of any prize or honour. The prize we were working for was a free, secure and just society where our people might be able to realize their full potential. The honour lay in our endeavour. History had given us the opportunity to give of our best for a cause in which we believed. When the Nobel Committee chose to honour me, the road I had chosen of my own free will became a less lonely path to follow. For this I thank the Committee, the people of Norway and peoples all over the world whose support has strengthened my faith in the common quest for peace. Thank you.'
+ Nobel Lecture by Aung San Suu Kyi, Oslo (June 16, 2012): http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1991/kyi-lecture_en.html
+ In Quest of Democracy (1992): http://www.ibiblio.org/obl/docs3/In_Quest_of_Democracy-ocr.pdf
+ "Freedom from Fear" - Journal of Democracy (1992): https://muse.jhu.edu/journals/journal_of_democracy/summary/v003/3.1kyi.html

"Francis Sejersted got his M.A. in history in 1971. He became a reader at the University of Oslo in 1971 and professor in social and economic history from 1973. From 1983 until 1988, he was chairman of Forskningspolitisk Råd, a public council that advised the government on Norwegian research. Sejersted was director of the Center for Technology and Human Values at the University of Oslo in1988-1998 and was chairman of the publicly appointed Commission of Free Speech in 1996-1999. As a historian, Sejersted has published numerous works, primarily on modern Norwegian history. He was a member of the Norwegian Nobel Committee in 1982-1999, its chairman from 1991."
+ Francis Sejersted (8 February 1936 - 25 August 2015): http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/themes/peace/committee/nnclist/bios/sejersted.html
+ Michael V. Aris (27 March 1946 – 27 March 1999) : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Aris

'Your Majesties, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, We are assembled here today to honour Aung San Suu Kyi for her outstanding work for democracy and human rights, and to present to her the Nobel Peace Prize for 1991. The occasion gives rise to many and partly conflicting emotions. The Peace Prize Laureate is unable to be here herself. The great work we are acknowledging has yet to be concluded. She is still fighting the good fight. Her courage and commitment find her a prisoner of conscience in her own country, Burma. Her absence fills us with fear and anxiety, which can nevertheless only be a faint shadow of the fear and anxiety felt by her family. We welcome this opportunity of expressing our deepest sympathy with them, with her husband, Michael Aris, and with her sons, Alexander and Kim. We feel with you, and we are very grateful to you for coming to Oslo to receive the Nobel Prize on behalf of your wife and mother. Our fear and anxiety are mixed with a sense of confidence and hope. In the good fight for peace and reconciliation, we are dependent on persons who set examples, persons who can symbolise what we are seeking and mobilise the best in us. Aung San Suu Kyi is just such a person. She unites deep commitment and tenacity with a vision in which the end and the means form a single unit. Its most important elements are: democracy, respect for human rights, reconciliation between groups, non-violence, and personal and collective discipline.

She has herself clearly indicated the sources of her inspiration: principally Mahatma Gandhi and her father, Aung San, the leader in Burma's struggle for liberation. The philosopher of non-violence and the General differ in many respects, but also show fundamental similarities. In both, one can see genuine independence, true modesty, and "a profound simplicity", to use Aung San Suu Kyi's own words about her father. To Aung San, leadership was a duty, and could only be carried out on the basis of humility in face of the task before him and the confidence and respect of the people to be led. While no doubt deriving a great deal of inspiration from Gandhi and her father, Aung San Suu Kyi has also added her own independent reflections to what has become her political platform. The keynote is the same profound simplicity as she sees in her father. The central position given to human rights in her thinking appears to reflect a real sense of the need to protect human dignity. Man is not only entitled to live in a free society; he also has a right to respect. On this platform, she has built a policy marked by an extraordinary combination of sober realism and visionary idealism. And in her case this is more than just a theory: she has gone a long way towards showing how such a doctrine can be translated into practical politics.

For a doctrine of peace and reconciliation to be translated into practice, one absolute condition is fearlessness. Aung San Suu Kyi knows this. One of her essays opens with the statement that it is not power that corrupts, but fear.1 The comment was aimed at the totalitarian regime in her own country. They have allowed themselves to be corrupted because they fear the people they are supposed to lead. This has led them into a vicious circle. In her thinking, however, the demand for fearlessness is first and foremost a general demand, a demand on all of us. She has herself shown fearlessness in practice. She opposed herself alone to the rifle barrels. Can anything withstand such courage? What was in that Major's mind when at the last moment he gave the order not to fire? Perhaps he was impressed by her bravery, perhaps he realised that nothing can be achieved by brute force.2 Violence is its own worst enemy, and fearlessness is the sharpest weapon against it. It is not least Aung San Suu Kyi's impressive courage which makes her such a potent symbol, like Gandhi and her father Aung San. Aung San was shot in the midst of his struggle. But if those who arranged the assassination thought it would remove him from Burmese politics, they were wrong. He became the unifying symbol of a free Burma and an inspiration to those who are now fighting for a free society. In addition to his example and inspiration, his position among his people, over forty years after his death, gave Aung San Suu Kyi the political point of departure she needed. She has indeed taken up her inheritance, and is now in her own right the symbol of the revolt against violence and the struggle for a free society, not only in Burma, but also in the rest of Asia and in many other parts of the world.

We ordinary people, I believe, feel that with her courage and her high ideals, Aung San Suu Kyi brings out something of the best in us. We feel we need precisely her sort of person in order to retain our faith in the future. That is what gives her such power as a symbol, and that is why any ill treatment of her feels like a violation of what we have most at heart. The little woman under house arrest stands for a positive hope. Knowing she is there gives us confidence and faith in the power of good. Aung San Suu Kyi was born in 1945. Her father was killed when she was two. She has no personal memories of him. Her mother was a diplomat, and Aung San Suu Kyi was to spend many of her early years and much of her later life abroad. In 1967, she took a degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics at St. Hugh's College, Oxford. From 1969 on, she worked for two years for the United Nations in New York. In 1972 she married Michael Aris, a British specialist on Tibet. For a time the family lived in Bhutan, but in the mid-seventies they moved back to Oxford. In addition to being a housewife with two small children, Aung San Suu Kyi kept up her academic work, gradually concentrating on modern Burmese history and literature. She was a visiting scholar at Kyoto University in Japan and at the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies in New Delhi. On her return to Burma in 1988, she broke off her studies at the London School of Oriental and African Studies. There is little in these outward events to suggest the role she was to embark on in 1988. But she was well prepared.

There is a great deal of evidence that the fate of her own people had constantly weighed on her mind. Her husband has told us how she often reminded him that one day she would have to return to Burma, and that she would count on his support.3 Her studies, too, as we have seen, became increasingly concentrated on Burma's modern history. The study of her father and the part he played in Burmese history no doubt increased her political commitment and sense that his mantle had fallen on her.4 In moving to Japan, she was virtually following in her father's footsteps. During the Second World War, it was from a base in Japan that Aung San built up Burma's independent national army. When Japan invaded Burma, Aung San and his men went too. Before long, they switched from fighting the British colonial power to resisting the occupying Japanese and supporting the retaking of Burma by the Allies. After the war, he led the negotiations with the British which were to lead to final independence. Aung San Suu Kyi appears to have felt an urgent need to study the process which led to Burma's independent statehood, and to understand the ideals governing the politics. In a beautiful essay comparing the Indian and Burmese experience of colonisation, she also brings out the special features of Burma's cultural heritage.5 History is important. You choose who you are by choosing which tradition you belong to. Aung San Suu Kyi seeks to call attention to what she sees as the best aspects of the national and cultural heritage and to identify herself with them. Such profound knowledge and such a deep sense of identity are an irresistible force in the political struggle.

The occasion of Aung San Suu Kyi's return to Burma in 1988 was, characteristically enough, not the political situation but her old mother's illness. The political turbulence had just begun, however. There had been demonstrations and confrontations with the police with some two hundred killed. The unrest continued while she was nursing her dying mother. That was the situation in which she resolved to take an active part in what she herself called "the second struggle for national independence". The military regime had seized power in Burma in 1962. The disturbances which broke out in 1988 were a reaction to growing repression. In the summer of that year, at a time when the situation was very uncertain, Aung San Suu Kyi intervened with a open letter to the government, proposing the appointment of a consultative committee of respected independent persons to lead the country into multi-party elections. In the letter, she emphasised the need for discipline and for refraining from the use of force on either side, and demanded the release of political prisoners.6 A couple of days later, she addressed several hundred thousand people in front of the large Shwedagon Pagoda in Rangoon, presenting a political program based on human rights, democracy and non-violence. On the 18th of September, after hesitating for a few weeks, the armed forces reacted by tightening the restrictions. The so-called "State Law and Order Restoration Council" (SLORC) was established, and martial law was introduced under which meetings were banned and persons could be sentenced without trial.

Political parties were not prohibited (perhaps with meetings banned it was thought unnecessary). A week after the establishment of SLORC, Aung San Suu Kyi and a few other members of the opposition founded the National League for Democracy, the NLD. She went on to engage in vigorous political activity, defying the ban on meetings and military provocations, and holding heavily attended political meetings all over the country. One remarkable feature of her political campaign was the appeal she had for the country's various ethnic groups, traditionally at odds with each other. It must have been her personal prestige which caused the regime to hesitate so long, but in July 1989 she was placed under house arrest. In May 1990, elections were held, in which the NLD won an overwhelming victory and over 80 per cent of the seats in the national assembly. There is general agreement that this was principally a triumph for Aung San Suu Kyi. Why did the SLORC allow free elections? Probably because they expected a very different result, a result which would somehow have provided the legitimacy they needed to retain power. The dilemma of such regimes was demonstrated - trapped in their own lies. At any rate, they refused to accept the election result. The election was in effect annulled. The SLORC continued, but with reduced legitimacy. Lack of legitimacy is often made up for by increased brutality. Amnesty International has reported continuing serious violations of human rights.7 Today, the Burmese regime appears to have developed into one of the most repressive in the world.

In recent decades, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has awarded a number of Prizes for Peace in recognition of work for human rights.8 It has done so in the conviction that a fundamental prerequisite for peace is the recognition of the right of all people to life and to respect. Another motivation lies in the knowledge that in its most basic form, the concept of human rights is not just a Western idea, but common to all major cultures. Permit me in this connection to quote a paragraph of Aung San Suu Kyi's essay In Quest of Democracy:

'Where there is no justice there can be no secure peace.
That just laws which uphold human rights are the necessary foundations of peace and security would be denied only by closed minds which interpret peace as the silence of all opposition and security as the assurance of their own power. The Burmese associate peace and security with coolness and shade:

The shade of a tree is cool indeed
The shade of parents is cooler
The shade of teachers is cooler still
The shade of the ruler is yet more cool
But coolest of all is the shade of the Buddha's teachings.

Thus to provide the people with the protective coolness of peace and security, rulers must observe the teachings of the Buddha. Central to these teachings are the concepts of truth, righteousness and loving kindness. It is government based on these very qualities that the people of Burma are seeking in their struggle for democracy.'9

This is not the first time that political persecution at home has prevented a Peace Prize Laureate from receiving the prize in person. It happened to Carl von Ossietzky in 1936, ill in one of Hitler's concentration camps.10 It happened to Andrei Sakharov and to Lech Walesa. Ossietzky died before the regime fell, but Sakharov and Walesa saw their struggles succeed.11 It is our hope that Aung San Suu Kyi will see her struggle crowned with success. However, we must also face up to the likelihood that this will not be the last occasion on which a Peace Prize Laureate is unable to attend. Let that remind us that in a world such as ours, peace and reconciliation cannot be achieved once and for all. We will never be able to lower our standards. On the contrary, a better world demands even greater vigilance of us, still greater fearlessness, and the ability to develop in ourselves the "profound simplicity" of which this year's Laureate has spoken. This applies to all of us as individuals, but must apply especially to those in positions of power and authority. Show humility and show fearlessness - like Aung San Suu Kyi. The result may be a better world to live in.'

PAID ADVERTISEMENT:

+ Amber London - "Low MF Key" (2012): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0GbNhTsd6W8
+ Hatcha & Benga - "10 Tons Heavy" (2010): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kXTidWqgF9I

FOOTNOTES:

1. "Freedom from Fear" in Freedom, pp. 180-185. The reference is to the oft-quoted dictum of Lord Acton, "Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely".

2. In 1988, despite opposition by the government, Aung San Suu Kyi made a speechmaking tour throughout the country. She was walking with her associates along a street in a town, when soldiers lined up in front of the group, threatening to shoot if they did not halt. Suu Kyi asked her supporters to step aside, and she walked on. At the last moment the major in command ordered the soldiers not to fire. She explained later, "It seemed so much simpler to provide them with a single target than to bring everyone else in."

3. Freedom, Introduction, p. xvii.

4. "My Father", in Freedom, pp. 3-38. First published by Queensland Press in 1984 in the Leaders of Asia series under the title of Aung San. Reprinted in 1991 by Kiscadale, Edinburgh, as Aung San of Burma: A Biographical Portrait by His Daughter.

5. "Intellectual Life in Burma and India under Colonialism", in Freedom, pp. 82-139.

6. "The Formation of a People's Consultative Committee", 15 August 1988, translated by Suu Kyi, in Freedom, pp. 192-197. Her first political initiative.

7. Amnesty International received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1977. See Irwin Abrams, ed., Nobel Lectures, Peace. 1971-1980 (Singapore: World Scientific, 1997): 161-177. Amnesty International campaigned for Suu Kyi's release from detention as a "prisoner of conscience".

8. The 1935 award to the concentration camp prisoner Carl von Ossietzky may be considered the earliest human rights prize. Later such recipients were Albert Lutuli (1960), Martin Luther King, Jr. (1964), René Cassin (1968), Séan MacBride (1974), Amnesty International (1977), Adolfo Pérez Esquivel (1980), Lech Walesa (1983), Desmond Tutu (1984), Elie Wiesel (1986), and the 14th Dalai Lama (1989). After 1991 such grantees were Rigoberta Menchú Tum (1992), and the 1996 laureates from East Timor, José Ramos-Horta and Bishop Belo. See Abrams, The Nobel Peace Prize and the Laureates (Boston: G.K. Hall), 3rd printing, 1990): 175-6 and entries on these laureates. Also the lectures of the most recent human rights laureates in Abrams, ed., Nobel Lectures, Peace. 1971-1980, cited in the previous endnote, and the companion volume for 1981-1990.

9. "Quest for Democracy", in Freedom, pp. 167-179, esp. pp. 177-178.

10. The international campaign for the prize for Carl von Ossietzky had already brought about his removal from the camp to a hospital in Berlin before the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced in 1936 that he would be awarded the postponed prize of 1935. The Nazi government refused permission for him to go to Oslo for the award ceremony. See Irwin Abrams, The Nobel Peace Prizes, pp. 125-129; Abrams, "Carl von Ossietzky Retrospective", The Nobel Prize Annual 1989 (Boston: G.K. Hall, 1990): 12-23.

+ The Nobel Peace Prize 1991 - Aung San Suu Kyi: Award Ceremony Speech - Presentation Speech by Francis Sejersted, Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee:
+ Source: Nobel Lectures, Peace 1991-1995, Editor Irwin Abrams, World Scientific Publishing Co., Singapore (1999):
+ Loktantra: http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1991/presentation-speech.html

Category: 
Back to Top