Suu Kyi says Nobel award meant Burma was not forgotten

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Media captionAung San Suu Kyi: "The Nobel Peace Prize drew me once again into the world of other beings outside my isolation"

Burma's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has said receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 had made her feel "real again" and reassured her that Burma's plight had not been forgotten.

Speaking in the Norwegian capital, Oslo, she said Western support had contributed to changes in Burma.

Ms Aung San Suu Kyi spent much of the past 24 years under house arrest in Burma. She was freed in late 2010.

She did not travel to collect the prize fearing she would not be allowed back.

Her visit to Oslo is part of a tour of Europe, her first since 1988, which she began in Geneva, at the UN's International Labour Organisation.

On Saturday, Suu Kyi will meet members of the Burmese community who are exiled and now live in Norway.

Open door

Opening the ceremony in Oslo, the chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Thorbjorn Jagland, said:

"Dear Aung San Suu Kyi, we have been waiting for you for a very long time. However we are well aware that your wait has been infinitely trying for you and one entirely of a different nature from ours.

"In your isolation you have become a moral voice for the whole world."

Mr Jagland described her as "a precious gift to the world community".

In her Nobel lecture, Ms Suu Kyi said she heard she had received the prize on the radio and it had felt "unreal".

But at the same time, it had "opened a door in my heart".

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

Winning the Nobel Peace Prize "made me real once again. It had drawn me back into the wider human community".

And she added, the Nobel Peace Prize drew the attention of the world to the struggle for democracy and human rights in Burma.

"We were not going to be forgotten."

She described recent reforms in Burma as positive but warned against blind faith.

"My party, the National League for Democracy, and I stand ready and willing to play any role in the process of national reconciliation," she said.

And she urged the unconditional release of all political prisoners, saying "one prisoner of conscience is one too many".

Aung San Suu Kyi referred to Burma's ethnic conflicts and ended by saying that receiving the Nobel Peace Prize had strengthened her faith to work for peace.

The two-week-long trip - seen as another milestone for Burma's political progress - includes visits to the UK, Switzerland, Ireland, France and Norway.

It is her second recent overseas trip, after visiting Thailand in May.

Her decision to travel is seen as a sign of confidence in the government of President Thein Sein, who has pursued a course of reform since coming to power last year, in Burma's first elections in 20 years.

Ms Aung San Suu Kyi is the daughter of Burmese independence leader Aung San, who was assassinated in 1947.

She became the leader of Burma's pro-democracy movement when, after living abroad for many years, she returned to Burma in 1988, initially to look after her sick mother.

She never left the country, fearing its military rulers would not allow her to return and was unable to receive her Nobel Peace Prize in person, or be with her British husband, Michael Aris, when he died in 1999.

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