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Daw Suu Receives IRC award

Message from Daw Aung San Suu Kyi 
in acceptance of the 
1995 IRC Freedom Award
 21 November 1995

It is a signal honour to receive an award from an organization that has been 
working effectively for more than half a century to alleviate human suffering in all 
parts of the world. This award demonstrates that the movement for democracy in 
Burma is recognized as one that seeks to alleviate the sufferings of the people of 
our country. And it is in the name of my people and my country that I accept with 
gratitude the 1995 Freedom Award of the International Rescue Committee.

Albert Einstein who founded the International Rescue Committee personally 
experienced the fate of a refugee when the rise of Nazism forced him to leave his 
native Germany in 1933.    He would have known the sense of dislocation and 
bereavement that makes refugees feel as strangers on this earth, exiled from the 
only home they have ever known and often unwelcome in lands where they are 
forced to find shelter.

Surely it is no coincidence that the International Rescue Committee that has 
worked over sixty years to help refugees is deeply committed to the cause of 
human freedom.  Each year large numbers of people of many different races and 
creeds are driven to an uncertain life as unwanted refugees because of political and 
economic mismanagement under systems that do not foster the two basic freedoms 
without which human beings cannot lead dignified, meaningful lives: freedom from 
want and freedom from fear. As long as there are parts of the world where the two 
freedoms are not fostered there will be refugees.

At present the International Rescue Committee is known to be providing 
humanitarian aid to refugees in twenty-four countries, including displaced Karenni 
people from Burma who have been forced to flee to Thailand to escape fighting in 
their own lands. The Committee is also engaged in helping over ten thousand 
refugees annually to begin new lives in the United States. That the International 
Rescue Committee is but one of a large number of organizations trying to cope 
with the resettlement and relief of displaced persons is an indication of the 
magnitude of the refugee problem.

If the refugee problem is to be resolved it will have to be tackled at its source. A 
refugee is one in search of refuge, of a shelter where he will be safe from danger 
and suffering. There are the easily recognizable refugees who live huddled in sad, 
sprawling camps dependent on the charity of others. There are also the 
unacknowledged refugees, men, women and children who live in constant 
insecurity in their own homes because their rights as human beings are not 

guaranteed by the law of the land.  It is only by creating societies that provide 
adequate material and psychological protection for their peoples that we shall be 
able to resolve the refugee problem successfully.

The International Rescue Committee was born of Dr. Einstein's personal 
experience of injustices inflicted by the Nazi  prior to the Second World War. After 
the end of that war which caused such widespread devastation the General 
Assembly of the United Nations, to full awareness that "disregard and contempt 
for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the 
conscience of mankind," proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  
If the Declaration were indeed accepted as "a common standard of achievement for 
all peoples and all nations" there would be no more refugees in our world.

We in the movement for democracy in Burma recognize that democracy and 
human rights are interdependent, that one cannot survive without the other. In 
working for democracy and human rights we are striving to establish  political and 
social institutions and values that will free our people from want and fear. We wish 
our  country to be a genuine refuge for all who come under its protection.  In our 
endeavours we are strengthened by the support of organizations that have acquired 
firsthand knowledge of the indissoluble links between freedom and security.

Shortly before his death, Dr. Einstein wrote: "What I seek to accomplish is simply 
to serve with my feeble capacity truth and justice at the risk of pleasing no one. 
"Truth and justice are concepts which will never lose their pristine force in the 
battle of humankind to make of our planet a refuge large enough and 
compassionate enough for all its inhabitants.  If everyone of us lived by Dr. 
Einstein's simple dictum the work of the International Rescue Committee would 
soon be brought to a triumphant conclusion.  In the meantime there is much still to 
be done.

May I take the opportunity of this auspicious occasion to congratulate the 
International Rescue Committee on their admirable achievements in the cause of 
peace and freedom and to ensure them of our support for their  fine work with 
refugees.  I would like to conclude with a warm expression of thanks to the Board 
of Directors of the International Rescue Committee for honouring my people and 
my country by choosing me as the recipient of the Freedom Award for 1995.

Thank you.