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January 30, 2013

Aung San Suu Kyi Applauds Special Olympics Athletes

by VOA News

Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi cheered on athletes at the 2013 Special Winter Olympics in the South Korean ski resort town of Pyeongchang Wednesday.

The democracy icon is attending the Global Development Summit, which is being held on the sidelines of the games. During a news conference, she compared her years of house arrest spent in Burma to the experience of those with disabilities.

"Your spirit will help you to overcome your intellectual, all your physical disabilities. And the spirit is what we've had to rely on in Burma for the last several decades. And I've always said the real revolution is the revolution of the spirit. And that is what you are carrying out," she said.

The Nobel laureate said she was "humbled" by the commitment of the thousands of athletes participating in the games. She said it is important that disabled people be allowed to be active in their communities, and that participation is key to ensuring human rights.

She also addressed sectarian tensions in Burma, stressing that being "different" does not pose a threat to the rest of society.

"Just because [Burma has] a number of different ethnic groups does not mean that our country has special problems. What it means is that we have special opportunities, and I am sure that we will be able to achieve peace and harmony," she said.

Aung San Suu Kyi is in the middle of a five-day trip to South Korea. On Thursday, she will visit the southwestern city of Gwangju to receive a long-delayed human rights award that she was previously unable to accept because she was under house arrest.

She was released in 2010 by Burma's reformist government, and has since become a member of parliament.

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Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.