Latvia: British Gurkha riflemen show their fighting skills in NATO manoeuvres
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A group of Gurkhas have set up a hunger strike protest outside of 10 Downing Street and are demanding to meet with Prime Minister Boris Johnson to negotiate their army pensions. Dhan Gurung, one of the organisers of the protests, says he and his fellow demonstrators are prepared to die in order to have their voices heard and their pensions reviewed. Gurkhas who retired before 1997 were only eligible for the Gurkha Pension Scheme (GPS) which is significantly less than the Armed Forces Pension Scheme in the assumption many would return to Nepal but many were granted settlement rights in 2009 meaning veterans are living in the UK but on paltry amounts.
Gurkhas have currently set up outside of Downing Street and say they will stay there until they die, holding placards that say “fast unto death”.
Under the GPS, Gurkhas would be eligible for £200 a month if they have served a full 15 years in the British Armed Forces – an amount the British Government believes is “designed to provide Gurkha veterans with a very good standard of living in Nepal”.
While the cost of living is much less than in the UK, actress Joanna Lumley led a successful campaign that allowed Gurkhas settlement rights in the UK if they so wished in 2009.
In 2007, it was also announced any Gurkhas who had retired after 1997 would be eligible for the Armed Forces Pension Scheme.
But Dhan Gurung, who retired before 1997 and lives in the UK, is only eligible for the GPS.
In a video shared with Sky News, Dhan Gurung said: “Our ancestors have saved their lives, to save Great Britain, now we are fighting for equal rights.
“We need equal rights, we need equal rights immediately to be addressed.
“If you don’t want to address, maybe tomorrow, maybe day after tomorrow, we’re going to die.
The tremendous achievements of Gurkha soldiers over 200 years
“This responsibility must be taken by the British Government.”
Mr Gurung began his hunger strike on Saturday and is also joined by his wife.
He added: “The British Government is not addressing our issues and there is a lot of discrimination, lots of human rights violations, lower payments and a penny-pinching pension. That’s why we’re here for the hunger strike.
“Hunger until the death.”
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Sky News host Kay Burley asked Shadow Education Secretary Peter Kyle his thoughts on the topic and told him the UK should not see pensioners dying in the street.
The Shadow Minister said: “It’s incredibly moving this whole situation, as I said there are people who have served our country, who have worn the Union flag on their uniform in the front line.
“Serving our country and putting their lives at risk to keep us safe at home, they deserve the respect that is due to them for having done this.”
Mr Kyle then urged Defence Secretary Ben Wallace to act on the hunger strike and to not leave them outside in the cold.
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