The Sri Lankan prime minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe sparked anger among Tamils and human rights activists after he this week said "all is forgiven" and urged asylum seekers who had fled the country to return, adding "even Tamils".
Speaking at a press conference in Canberra together with his Australian counterpart, Malcolm Turnbull, Mr Wickremesinghe said, "Come back. All is forgiven."
Human rights activists have hit back on social media at his remarks, questioning why the asylum seekers who fled the country following persecution should be forgiven. Many have also pointed to the lack of justice for past crimes which raises questions about how safe any returning refugees would be.
Asked about those who still feel it is unsafe to return, Mr Wickremesinghe said,
“Some of them have left from places where conflict didn’t even take place. All of them are not even Tamils and even we want all the Tamils to come back. We should not make a mess of ourselves like they’ve gone and done in Europe and the Middle East."
"They left Sri Lanka illegally. They are welcome to return to Sri Lanka and we won’t prosecute them, so they can come back to Sri Lanka, and we will have them, but remember, they broke the law in coming to Australia, attempting to come to Australia.”