GURKHA NEWS

Set For Legal Action on Pensions

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Gurkha soldiers in the British army are planning legal action against what they regard as discriminatory treatment in their conditions of service and pension rights.

Discrimination against Gurkhas is all the more irrational, they say, given that they are now to be given the right to live in Britain. They also point out that soldiers from Commonwealth countries - notably Fiji, where the army is actively recruiting - enjoy the same conditions as British troops.

Discrimination in the treatment of Gurkhas applies only to the ranks, not to officers commissioned after attending Sandhurst.

A list of grievances has been sent to the government by Public Interest Lawyers, a Birmingham-based firm which has taken up the Gurkhas' case. Unless the government responds in 21 days, they will issue a challenge in the courts demanding a judicial review of its refusal to end the discrimination.

Tony Blair announced last month that Gurkhas with more than four years' service, and who retired after 1997, would be allowed to remain in Britain once discharged, and receive citizenship after a further 12 months' residence.

This received a mixed response in Nepal. There are fears that the country's economy will suffer, because Gurkhas will have no incentive to send any of their pay home. Senior military sources have also been concerned at the prospect of Gurkhas turning their attention to a future in Britain after serving for just four years.

The lawyers said yesterday: "Both Gurkhas and Fijians could live in the UK, but while a Gurkha would be on a pension of approximately 90 a month, the equivalent Commonwealth soldier would be on a pension approximately five times that amount."

Even if a British soldier and a Gurkha soldier of equivalent rank and service were to be hit by the same mortar bomb and suffer similar injuries, their disability pensions would be very different, the lawyers added.

Claims that Gurkhas were discriminated against were rejected by the court of appeal last year - mainly on the grounds that they retired to Nepal. The change in immigration rules makes that argument redundant, say their lawyers.

The issues of pay and pensions caused "deep-seated grievance", says Phil Shiner of Public Interest Lawyers, in a letter to the Treasury solicitor. A fundamental review of Gurkhas' pay and pensions is long overdue, he says.

Some 230 Gurkhas and 800 dependants would be eligible for citizenship each year under the measures announced by the prime minister last month.

The first regiment of Gurkhas was formed in 1815 after the British were impressed by their fighting prowess.

After the partition of India in 1947, Gurkha Rifles regiments remained in both the Indian and British armies.

This month, Gurkhas helped to evacuate Britons from Ivory Coast, the west African state threatened by civil war.

 

City flies in Gurkhas for special day

VETERAN Gurkha soldiers have flown from Nepal to march before their Queen at next Sunday's Remembrance Service at the Cenotaph in Whitehall, thanks to the generosity of people from York.
The 12 former Gurkha signallers will also take part in the Festival of Remembrance at the Barbican in York tomorrow night.
They are here because a year ago as 246 Gurkha Signal Squadron gathered outside York Minster for the Remembrance Service one of their officers, Major Krishnan Gurung, said he would like to see Gurkha veterans parade at the Cenotaph.
The idea struck a chord with the Squadron's Officer Commanding Major Ade Clewlow who launched an appeal to make it happen. He said: "We estimated we would need 15,000 to bring the veterans from Nepal, but the people of York raised 18,000."
The veterans are headed by retired Major Harkabir Gurung, 82, who was with British and Indian troops under General William Slim. They fought the Japanese 15th Army 60 years ago at the Battle of Kohima in North-East India one of the fiercest conflicts of the Second World War and a turning point in the Burma campaign.
While they are here the veterans, who are the guests of 246 Gurkha Signal Squadron at Imphal Barracks in York, are sightseeing and visiting other Gurkha units at Catterick Garrison as well as Bramcote and Bath.
"The generosity of people throughout Yorkshire has made it possible to bring the veterans on a journey they will never forget to take part in Remembrance Day services and parades at a very poignant time," said Major Clewlow.

 

'A proud day'
 

Early autumn sun drenched the parade ground at Nuneaton's Bramcote Barracks as the 50th anniversary of the Queens Gurkha Signals was honoured by a very special visit.

The Princess Royal was guest of honour at a cap-badging ceremony and a reformation parade of 248 Gurkha Signal Squadron yesterday.

She attended in her capacity as colonel-in-chief of the Royal Corps of Signals and the parade included around 400 officers and soldiers.

The 248 Gurkha Signal Squadron, which was disbanded in 1997 with the hand-over of Hong Kong to China, was also reformed at the parade.

The whole event marked the 50th anniversary of the capbadging ceremony of 1954, in Kuala Lumpur, when the Royal Corps of Signals cap-badge was replaced by the present badge. The date has since been celebrated as the regimental birthday.

And, in the light of recent controversy surrounding difficulties faced by former Gurkha soldiers in gaining British citizen-ship, Princess Anne paid significant tribute to the bravery and loyalty of the regiment.

She told them: "I am proud, as your colonel-in-chief, to bring you greetings from Her Majesty the Queen, congratulations and thanks.

"Today is a proud day. It gives me great pleasure to be with you to celebrate this significant event in the history of the Queen's Gurkha Signals.

"Fifty years may not seem long by some people's standards but you have already seen service in Malaya, Brunei, Hong Kong, Cyprus, Bosnia, Kosovo, the Falklands and, most recently, in Iraq.

"You have proved your military abilities in the most testing of circumstances. I take great pride in your achievements."

Brigadier SMA Lee, OBE, Colonel of the regiment, said: "Today is a celebration of the achievements of Queen's Gurkha Signals over the last 50 years.

"It is a day of emotion, of reunion, of recollections, mostly happy, some inevitably sad. Above all it is, indeed, a proud day." The Evening Telegraph reported this week how Warwickshire Country Council had unanimously backed a motion from Nuneaton councillor Alan Farnell to grant residential status in the UK to former Gurkha soldiers.

The motion was tabled and proposed by the Conservative leader after he discovered that Gurkha families still living in Nuneaton are threatened with deportation - despite some having British wives and British-born children.

Cllr Farnell expressed outrage that former Gurkha soldiers, many of whom had been based at Bramcote Barracks, had been granted the freedom of Nuneaton and Bedworth but not the right to be British.

After completing their service Gurkha soldiers are required to return to Nepal and then encounter difficulty coming back and gaining citizenship.

 

Britain extends citizenship rights to Gurkha soldiers

LONDON (AFP) - Britain has extended full citizenship rights to Gurkha soldiers from Nepal who serve in the British armed forces, Prime Minister Tony Blair said.

"The Gurkhas have served this country with great skill, courage and dignity during some of the most testing times in our history," Blair said.

"They have made an enormous contribution not just to our armed forces but to the life of this country, and it is important their commitment and sacrifice is recognised," he said.

Gurkhas and their supporters have been trying for three years to publicly shame the British government with the charge it treats these soldiers as good enough to die for Britain, but not good enough to become citizens.

The announcement that most Gurkha soldiers have won the right to become British citizens follows an 18-month review by Britain's Home Office and the Foreign Office.

Gurkhas said they could not wholeheartedly welcome the move because the new provision will apply only to those who were discharged from the forces after July 1, 1997, meaning that around 100 of the estimated 400 Gurkhas currently resident in Britain will not be eligible.

Gurkhas have served in the British army since 1815, with 3,600 now serving in Britain and overseas, but very few had been granted the right to British citizenship.

Most Gurkhas return to Nepal -- which is currently in the midst of a Maoist insurgency -- at the end of their service.

Major Tikendradal Dewan, chairman of the Brigade of Gurkhas Welfare Society, said: "This is extremely good news in a way but it is not a 100 percent celebration because of the cut-off date."

"It's difficult to rejoice at the news when we know that something like a quarter of the guys will not benefit from it. What will happen to them? Will they be deported?" he asked.

The Home Office said changes would be introduced to the immigration rules within the next few weeks, introducing a new procedure for former Gurkhas to smooth their way into British society.

Gurkhas who have served more than four years will be able to apply for entry clearance from Nepal or Britain after discharge.

Although approval will not be automatic, most are expected to be granted indefinite leave to remain in Britain and then to apply for citizenship after 12 months.

Many ex-Gurkhas who have already applied for citizenship have seen their cases left in limbo over the past two years while they waited for the review to be completed.

Major Dewan said their uncertain immigration status meant that they were often unable to find suitable jobs or return to Nepal to visit relatives.

Most Gurkhas retire after 15 years service in their mid-30s, he said. Because of the shortage of work in their impoverished homeland and their inability to settle in Britain, many seek a second career overseas, often finding security work in troublespots like Iraq.

Home Secretary David Blunkett paid tribute to the Gurkhas' "unquestioning loyalty".

"In battle, they have distinguished themselves as brave and skilful soldiers in all conditions and all terrains," he said.

"Their 13 Victoria Crosses (Britain's highest military honour) and numerous other bravery awards speak for themselves."

"I am very keen to ensure that we recognise their role in the history of our country and the part they have played in protecting us," Blunkett said.

"This is why we have put together the best possible package to enable discharged Gurkhas to apply for settlement and citizenship," he said. "I hope that the decision I have made today will make our gratitude clear."

Thousands of Gurkhas are serving or have served recently with British forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Balkans. Still more have served in past wars, including World War I and World War II.

An estimated 43,000 Gurkhas were killed or wounded in action in the two world wars.

 

Gurkha Citizenship Campaign

Ex-Gurkha soldiers demonstrate for Citizenship Rights in Liverpool on 1 September, supported by Peter Carroll.

"It is an outrage they are being treated this way. If any group of people qualify for citizenship it is surely the Gurkhas and their families."

Peter Carroll, Daily Express, 27 August

"Gurkha soldiers who have fought for Britain should not have to fight for citizenship as well. The Gurkhas should be granted British citizenship as a right of service."

Delight at Gurkha Success

Peter Carroll handing in petitions at 10 Downing Street with retired GurkhasLib Dem Campaigner Peter Carroll has reacted with delight to the news that retired Gurkha soldiers are to be allowed to apply for British citizenship. Peter was a leading figure in the lengthy and high profile campaign that saw the issue reach the national press, national radio and TV, the floor of the House of Commons, the national Lib Dem conference at Bournemouth and 10 Downing Street.

The Daily Express Campaign

The Daily Express have strongly supported the campaign for citizenship for Gurkhas. In early September they ran a text poll asking for readers opinions on whether Gurkhas should be offered citizenship, and with over 16,000 votes polled, 99% of respondents agreed.

The Express have also launched a petition in their newspaper calling on the Government to reconsider its position. Whether you support their "in paper" petition on our online petition, the result will be the same - increased pressure on the Government to give fair rights to soldiers prepared to serve our country with honour.

Peter Carroll, as the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Spokesman for Folkestone and Hythe where the majority of UK Gurkhas are based, was approached for support by the Gurkha campaign group and has since worked to help promote their campaign. This page gives some examples of that, and more reasons to support the campaign - giving fair citizenship rights to Gurkhas.

This campaign has received backing from members of all parties. The Liberal Democrats strongly back the Gurkhas position. Anne Widdicombe (MP for Maidstone and Weald) for the Conservatives has backed fair rights in Parliament. Michael Howard as Conservative leader (and MP for many Gurkhas in Folkestone and Hythe!) has amazingly come out against. Labour have made no moves on this issue over the last seven years, but have now promised they are conducting a review which will report in the next few months.

Daily Express Leader - 2 September

The Gurkhas, who have fought so loyally and bravely for Britain, shouldn't have to take to the streets fighting for British citizenship.

Why, when the Government lets so many people to whom we owe nothing settle here, does it deny the Gurkhas?

These superb soldiers, who put their lives on the line for us, should be topping the list. Indeed, we should be proud to have them as British citizens.

Gurkhas, many of whom have won the Victoria Cross defending a country which is not their own, have earned an automatic right to live here.

Time and again they have come to our aid. In 1940, when Britain stood alone against Germany, the came on side. They have never deserted us when we needed them but now we are betraying them.

If the Gurkhas are good enough to die for us, they should be good enough to be given a British passport.

About the Gurkhas

Nepal Map"Nepal is a landlocked country in the Himalayas. Its only natural resource is its scenery, its significant export is its fighting men. The men we call the Gurkhas."

"For over 180 years the Gurkhas have helped to fight Britain's wars and keep the peace. They have won 13 Victoria Crosses and served in most of the major conflicts of the 20th Century."

"If there was a minute's silence for every Gurkha casualty from World War 2 alone, we would have to keep quiet for two weeks."

Source: Gurkha Welfare Trust

The Victoria Cross is the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

About the Campaign

The return of Gurkhas to Nepal following the end of their service is governed by the "Tripartite Agreement" dating from 1947. This states:

"Gurkhas are enlisted as Nepalese citizens, they remain Nepalese citizens throughout their service and they are discharged in Nepal at the end of their service."

Many people, including ex-Gurkhas, feel that this is a poor reward for at least 15 years service in the British Army. They believe that it is only fair that at the conclusion of their service, it should be the right of a Gurkha to stay as a citizen, if they choose, in the UK.

The numbers involved are small - only 230 Gurkha's were enlisted to the British Army in 2003 for instance.

The Liberal Democrats are strongly backing the Gurkhas position that they should, if they wish, at the end of their service be allowed to stay, as citizens, in this country. The campaign has been growing for years, and the Liberal Democrats have consistently supported their claim for citizenship.

Ex-Gurkha soldiers demonstrate for Citizenship Rights in Liverpool on 1 September, supported by Peter Carroll.On 1 September 2004, over 400 ex-Gurkha servicemen attended a lobby of the Home Office in Liverpool seeking a change to the rules. A number of Liberal Democrats accompanied and supported the protest, including Folkestone and Hythe Parliamentary Spokesman Peter Carroll.

 

LONG-SERVING GURKHA REFUSED ASYLUM

A FORMER Gurkha who was in the army for 13 years is to be kicked out of Britain today - after he was refused asylum.

Tejbahadur Limbu, 44 - an ex-medical sergeant with the Royal Gurkha Rifles - said: "I have given my blood, my sweat, my tears and my heart." The father of four , who is being held in a detention centre at Dover, Kent, was on standby for the Falklands and First Gulf wars.

His family have begged him not to return to Nepal fearing he will be killed by Maoist guerrillas because he is an ex-Gurkha. Tejbahadur came to Britain in May last year on a tourist visa. He applied for asylum when that ran out.

Peter Carroll, ex-RAF flight lieutenant and Lib Dem candidate for Folkestone, said: "It is an outrage. This man has served his country."

The Home Office said: "We are looking at the policy of naturalisation in relation to Gurkhas."

 

 

Britain extends citizenship rights to Gurkha soldiers
Britain extends citizenship rights to Gurkha soldiers
LONDON (AFP) - Britain has extended full citizenship rights to Gurkha soldiers from Nepal who serve in the British armed forces, Prime Minister Tony Blair said.

"The Gurkhas have served this country with great skill, courage and dignity during some of the most testing times in our history," Blair said.

"They have made an enormous contribution not just to our armed forces but to the life of this country, and it is important their commitment and sacrifice is recognised," he said.

Gurkhas and their supporters have been trying for three years to publicly shame the British government with the charge it treats these soldiers as good enough to die for Britain, but not good enough to become citizens.

The announcement that most Gurkha soldiers have won the right to become British citizens follows an 18-month review by Britain's Home Office and the Foreign Office.

Gurkhas said they could not wholeheartedly welcome the move because the new provision will apply only to those who were discharged from the forces after July 1, 1997, meaning that around 100 of the estimated 400 Gurkhas currently resident in Britain will not be eligible.

Gurkhas have served in the British army since 1815, with 3,600 now serving in Britain and overseas, but very few had been granted the right to British citizenship.

Most Gurkhas return to Nepal -- which is currently in the midst of a Maoist insurgency -- at the end of their service.

Major Tikendradal Dewan, chairman of the Brigade of Gurkhas Welfare Society, said: "This is extremely good news in a way but it is not a 100 percent celebration because of the cut-off date."

"It's difficult to rejoice at the news when we know that something like a quarter of the guys will not benefit from it. What will happen to them? Will they be deported?" he asked.

The Home Office said changes would be introduced to the immigration rules within the next few weeks, introducing a new procedure for former Gurkhas to smooth their way into British society.

Gurkhas who have served more than four years will be able to apply for entry clearance from Nepal or Britain after discharge.

Although approval will not be automatic, most are expected to be granted indefinite leave to remain in Britain and then to apply for citizenship after 12 months.

Many ex-Gurkhas who have already applied for citizenship have seen their cases left in limbo over the past two years while they waited for the review to be completed.

Major Dewan said their uncertain immigration status meant that they were often unable to find suitable jobs or return to Nepal to visit relatives.

Most Gurkhas retire after 15 years service in their mid-30s, he said. Because of the shortage of work in their impoverished homeland and their inability to settle in Britain, many seek a second career overseas, often finding security work in troublespots like Iraq.

Home Secretary David Blunkett paid tribute to the Gurkhas' "unquestioning loyalty".

"In battle, they have distinguished themselves as brave and skilful soldiers in all conditions and all terrains," he said.

"Their 13 Victoria Crosses (Britain's highest military honour) and numerous other bravery awards speak for themselves."

"I am very keen to ensure that we recognise their role in the history of our country and the part they have played in protecting us," Blunkett said.

"This is why we have put together the best possible package to enable discharged Gurkhas to apply for settlement and citizenship," he said. "I hope that the decision I have made today will make our gratitude clear."

Thousands of Gurkhas are serving or have served recently with British forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Balkans. Still more have served in past wars, including World War I and World War II.

An estimated 43,000 Gurkhas were killed or wounded in action in the two world wars.

I think this newspaper cutting says it all.

If you have a comment why not start a discussion on the NMBVA Forum

http://pub5.bravenet.com/forum/show.php?usernum=409356283&cpv=2

 

EX-GRATIA PAYMENT SCHEME TO GURKHA FAR EAST PRISONERS OF WAR (FEPOW)

In 2000 the British Government announced an ex-gratia scheme to provide a payment of 10,000 to certain members of the British Armed Forces and those Forces raised in territories for which the UK retained prime responsibility in 1951 and who had been prisoners of war of the Japanese.

On behalf of the British Government a statement has been issued announcing that the scheme is to be extended to include those Gurkha Far East Prisoners of War (FEPOW) who qualify.

The British Government have extended the 2000 ex-gratia scheme to Nepalese Gurkhas who were captured and imprisoned by the Japanese during World War Two (called FEPOW).

    The criteria for eligibility is:

  • Individuals who served in the Old Indian Army,
  • Nepalese Citizens in 1951 when the Peace treaty with Japan was signed by the UK,
  • must have been captured and imprisoned by the Japanese
  • They must not have served with the Indian National Army

A team is being set up in Kathmandu and Delhi to administer the claims. Application forms will not be available until February/Early March 2004. You can however register your interest in claiming now and an application form will be sent to you when they are available.

Mrs Amanda Lucas

Room 1/2, Bldg 398B

Trenchard Lines, Upavon

Wiltshire

England

SN9 6BE

 

 

Ex-Gurkhas Fail In Claim

Seven ex-Gurkhas who claimed the British Army discriminated against them by giving them less pay and smaller pensions than British soldiers have lost their test case in the court of appeal.

Lords Justices Simon Brown, Chadwick and Rix had been told by Nicholas Blake QC, for the Gurkhas: "These men put their lives at risk for the crown for a considerable number of years. Once you are facing the same risks, you must receive the same rewards."

The Gurkhas, whose compatriots have served alongside British soldiers for nearly 200 years, claimed that large differences in pension entitlements and pay during leave and restrictions on accompaniment by wives and family breached human rights laws and the Race Relations Act.

When Britain left Hong Kong in 1997 the traditional base for the brigade of Gurkhas was moved to southern Britain and their pay increased to match that of British soldiers.

But during leave periods in their home country of Nepal, Gurkhas are paid the equivalent of 5% of their salary. Gurkhas retire after a maximum of 17 years of service with a pension of 91 a month. British privates serve 22 years for a pensionof 623 a month.

On pay and pensions, the court found that the Gurkhas were not in an analogous position to British soldiers and therefore it was not discrimination to pay them less.

On wives and families, the judges noted with disapproval that Gurkhas historically had been allowed to have their families with them for only three years of postings.

The Ministry of Defence announced a review in June and Lord Justice Simon Brown said he hoped the outcome would improve the lot of married Gurkhas.

The Gurkhas' lawyers said they would not pursue their case to the House of Lords but would concentrate their efforts on an upcoming case. This will compare all the 67 different benefits, grants, gratuities and allowances within the armed forces pensions scheme to the Gurkha pension scheme.

Most of the benefits are not available to Gurkhas, nor are many others, including education allowances.

Their solicitor, Phil Shiner, said he expected the Ministry of Defence to agree to a full review of whether Gurkhas should receive the same pension benefits as British soldiers.

Padam Bahadur Gurung, president of the Gurkha Army Ex-Servicemen's Organisation, said: "We believe that in the end justice will prevail and Gurkhas must be treated equally with British soldiers."

Lord Justice Simon Brown said that although a Gurkha's pension was small compared with a British soldier's, a Gurkha rifleman with 15 years service had a higher pension than a Nepalese bank clerk's salary. When the Gurkhas returned to Nepal on retirement, some as young as 33, they had an immediate pension and were offered education for a new career, he added.

Sunday, October 12, 2003

 

HOME  ~ COMMITTEE  ~ BRANCH DIRECTORY ~ NON-UK BRANCHES ~ HISTORY ~ MEMBERSHIP   JOINREUNIONS INFORMATION ~ LAST POST ~ WAR GRAVES ~ OBITUARIES REGALIA  PHOTO ALBUM GURKHA NEWS  ~ MEMORIALS LOST CONTACTS ~ CONSTITUTION ~ DIARY FIND YOUR UNIT MEMBERS STORIES ~ MEMORIES ~ HUMOUR ~ CAN YOU HELP ~ MEDALS  NEWS  LETTERS / EMAILS ~ BOOKS ~ LINKS ~ WEB RINGS ~ GUEST BOOK

Copyright 2003 The N.M.B.V.A. All rights Reserved