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Gurkha Justice: The Gurkha Citizenship and Pension Campaign

Protestor at March 2008 Gurkha justice protest in Westminster

It's an ongoing disgrace: Gurkhas who retired from the British Army after 1997 can automatically stay in the UK, but those who retired earlier must apply, and many have been refused and face deportation. Pension rights for years served by Gurkhas before 1997 count at only around a quarter of the level of years served after that time.

On Tuesday 30th September, the High Court ruled their treatment had been unlawful in terms of the right to live in the UK if they retired before 1997. Following that fantastic High Court decision, the Government has to change the law on how it treats Gurkhas. We demand the full, fundamental change in law that will allow all retired Gurkhas the right to live here. You can back their protest by signing the NEW petition now.

Gurkha Justice banner

Latest Gurkha Justice Campaign News

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 2004

"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."

Charles Kennedy MP, www.libdems.org.uk, 30 August 2004

Delight at Gurkha Success

Peter Carroll handing in petitions at 10 Downing Street with retired Gurkhas

Lib 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 full story "Delight at Gurkha Success"

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.

Search this site for all news and stories about the Gurkha campaign

Daily Express Leader - 2 September

Daily Express logo

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.

Victoria Cross Citations of Gurkhas

About the Campaign

Equal Rights for Gurkhas Banner

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.

Letter from Paul Keetch, Lib Dem Defence Spokesman, to Tony Blair on Gurkha citizenship and pension rights, May 2002

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.

Recent Quotes of Support

Daily Express, 8th September

"Every day there is not a decision made is a day too long. When it does come, I just hope it is totally postitive and not a typical Government fudge"

Peter Carroll, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Spokesperson for Folkestone and Hythe

Gurkhas have a proud history of service to Britain and have won 13 victoria crosses. How do we show our appreciation? With a P45 and a one-way ticket to Nepal"

Ann Widdecombe, Conservative MP for Maidstone

"It is outrageous that some have been granted citizenship while the others have not. The government should stop messing about and grant full citizenship to these brave and loyal soliders now"

Paul Keetch, Liberal Democrat Defence Spokesperson

"Any member of Nato armed forces can lawfully enter the UK upon discharge and can ask to stay here. If a Turkish infantryman can do that, why deny it to the Gurkhas?"

Ann Widdecombe, Conservative MP for Maidstone

Edinburgh Evening News, 1 September

"If a Commonwealth citizen serves in the UK for only four years they are granted citizenship. We want an equal right to this."

Tikendradal Dewan, Chairman of the Brigade of Gurkhas Welfare Society

Daily Express, 27 August 2004

Daily Express, 27 August 2004

"Our members have between 15 and 30 years loyal service to the Crown. All we are asking for is the right to live as citizens in the country we were prepared to fight and die for."

Bidur Pakrin, Vice Chairman of the Brigade of Gurkhas Welfare Society

"We full support the Gurkhas getting citizenship. We are letting plenty of other people in, but the Gurkhas should be top of the list. They have already proved their loyalty by putting their lives on the line. It is an appalling betrayal."

Shaun Rusling, National Gulf Veterans and Families Association

"They are held in the highest esteem and in great affection. 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, Liberal Democrat Parlimentary Spokesman for Folkestone and Hythe

Daily Express, 2 September 2004

"To deny them UK citizenship is a scandal."

Jack Moorhouse, Corporal in Lancashire Fusiliers, serving alongside the Gurkhas in Burma during WW2

"My children have been brought up in Britain and are as British and any other British girls. I love this country and the people here and I wish to be accepted a part of it."

Rambahadur Gurung, ex-Gurkha leaving with the rank of Lance Corporal having served in Bosnia, Cyprus and Kosovo

Daily Mirror article on Gurkha deportation (comments from Peter Carroll) - 28 August

Gurkha Pay and Pension Issues

Although the main thrust of the recent campaign has been about citizenship, there are a range inequalities in the treatment of Gurkhas as against British soldiers. Campaigners, including the Liberal Democrats, also seek to get justice on these issues as well.

When Britain left Hong Kong in 1997, the traditional base for the Brigade of Gurkhas was moved to Britain and their pay was increased to match that of British soldiers. But during leave periods in 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 pension which is £623 a month.

[Source: http://oscise.tripod.com/legalnews.html October 2003]

The Folkestone and Hythe Gurkha Connection

Following the withdrawal from Hong Kong, the Gurkha Regiments were significantly re-organised, and some are now based in the UK. Amongst them are the Royal Gurkha Rifles (RGR), Brigade Training Team and the Band of Brigade of Gurkhas, all based at the Sir John Moore Barracks, Shornecliffe, Folkestone.

Gurkha Welfare Trust

The Gurkha Welfare Trust are not associated with this campaign, but do a great deal of excellent work supporting ex-Gurkha's in Nepal.