Police disrupt Gurkha hunger strikers at Downing Street
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Dhan Gurung and several other Gurkhas have spent their fourth night outside of Downing Street as they demand their army pensions are reviewed which are weighted as if they were living in much cheaper Nepal. Mr Gurung told Sky News police attempted to clear him out overnight with some officers attempting to remove his gazebo but were prevented by police. The protesting pensioner then gave an update of his demonstration, revealing his wife and another protester are getting so weak they can not “speak or stand”.
Under the Gurkha Pension Scheme (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.
Mr Gurung has been outside Downing Street for four nights now and says he and his other protesters are prepared to die for his protest.
He gave an update to Kay Burley on Sky News and said: “The three of us are getting weaker day by day and today is more weaker than yesterday.
“This is the fourth night and starting day five, we are all having emotional disorders and it’s stressful.
“Because last night [we were targeted by police] who were disturbing us and trying to wake us and they said we cannot do this and cannot do that.”
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He added some officers attempted to remove his gazebo and other furniture as it was against by-laws.
But the public helped defend Mr Gurung and the other protesters who have been offering them warm clothes.
He continued: “After that, my wife and one of the ladies on strike became emotionally, mentally distressed and they cannot speak, they cannot talk, they cannot stand.
“And they’re losing that memory brainpower.”
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Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has been repeatedly called to appear on Sky News or meet with the Gurkhas but says he is unavailable to do so.
Labour say they will pen a letter to Mr Wallace demanding he meets with the protesters and says it would be terrible if they died on the streets.
A Ministry of Defence spokesperson said on Monday: “We greatly value the huge contribution Gurkhas make to the British Army and ensure they are supported with a generous pension and medical care during retirement in Nepal.
“We are committed to ensuring the Gurkha Pension Scheme is sustainable and fair alongside other UK public sector pensions.”
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