With flowers, songs and tears of joy, exiles from Myanmar greeted their hero Aung San Suu Kyi as she arrived Saturday to give her Nobel address for the peace prize she won 21 years ago.
Jubilant supporters -- many wearing colourful ethnic hilltribe dress or the saffron robes worn by Buddhist monks in the country also called Burma -- waited for her in Oslo City Hall and on the rainy streets outside.
"I am very happy," said 38-year-old monk Vicittasara, who once saw Suu Kyi as a child in Mandalay, and who travelled to Oslo from India, where he is a Buddhist scholar at the Tibetan University in Varanasi.
"Her father was the father of independence, so now we feel that she is the mother of democracy," he said, referring to her father the independence hero General Aung San who was assassinated when Suu Kyi was a child.
Another supporter, refugee Billi Vanhmun, 17, stood outside the hall clutching a bunch of flowers as colourful as her Chin state traditional dress, excited to see the veteran activist after her years of house arrest.
"I feel very good because she is my hero," said the teenager. "I love her!"
Vanhmun said her family had to flee Myanmar because "my father helped some people who fought for the country, and police didn't like it. He was in prison three years, and we couldn't live anymore in Burma."
The family fled via Thailand and Malaysia and arrived in Norway seven years ago, where her father died in 2008.
Another activist who had to flee was Buddhist monk Htawara, 28, who like many Burmese uses only one name.
Speaking through an interpreter, he said he fled Myanmar in 2007 after the "Saffron Revolution", the biggest popular challenge to the regime since soldiers crushed a 1988 student uprising, killing thousands.
"Aung San Suu Kyi is my special leader," he said, expressing the hope she will bring freedom to her country, where the government has launched reforms and pledged to move toward democracy.
"Even now, there are many monks in prison, and I want them to be released."