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Sri Lankan PM faces backlash after telling Tamils to ‘forget the past’

Sri Lanka’s prime minister has faced criticism from Tamils after telling them to “forget the past and move forward” at an event in Kilinochchi last week.

“We have all been affected, let’s forget the past and move forward,” said Ranil Wickremesinghe at a meeting in the town, which was the former administrative capital of the LTTE.  “There are ongoing court cases for some issues… We can’t go on filing cases.”

“That is how South Africa did,”  Wickremesinghe further claimed. “They did not prosecute everyone.”

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His remarks were criticised by the Tamil National People’s Front and members of Tamil civil society, amid protests in the North-East calling for Sri Lanka to be referred to the International Criminal Court, a call that the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) said was "fully warranted" given the Sri Lankan government’s failure to establish an accountability mechanism for violations of international law.

Former parliamentarian M K Shivajilingam responded to Wickremesinghe's comments by stating,

“Is the PM prepared to accept the truth that tens of thousands of innocent Tamils were killed by government troops, hospitals, food queues and no fire zones were bombed, those who surrendered were tortured and made to disappear or killed?”