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Myanmar's Suu Kyi Accepts 1991 Nobel Peace Prize

Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi (left) attends a news conference with Norway's Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg in central Oslo on June 15.
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Saturday accepted the Nobel Peace Prize that she was awarded in absentia in 1991.

At a ceremony in Oslo, Suu Kyi 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.

"As 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," she told the audience. "It had made me real once again. It had drawn me back into the wider community and, what it is is more important, the Nobel Prize had drawn the attention of the world to the struggle for democracy and human rights in Burma."

She added also that the prize expanded her own interests to include the struggle for peace and human rights in other countries.

"Receiving the Nobel Peace prize means, personally, extending my concerns for democracy and human rights beyond national borders," she said. "The Nobel Peace prize opened up a door in my heart."

Suu Kyi, who turns 67 next week and is in frail health, noted that fighting and violence continue in her homeland. State media in Myanmar reported Saturday that 50 people were killed in reent communal clashes in Rakhine state.

But she insisted defiantly that the struggle for peace must continue, even if the ultimate goal can never be reached.

"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 traveler in a desert fixes his eyes on the one guiding star that will lead him to salvation," Suu Kyi said. "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 us make a human community safer and kinder."

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 her back in.

Her sons, Kim and Alexander, accepted the Nobel prize on her behalf in 1991.

A year later Suu Kyi announced she would use the $1.3 million prize money to establish a health and education trust for Burmese people.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AP