Friday, September 19, 2008

Grumblings of the Gallant Gurkhas

Never in the history of the British military have the Gurkhas ever abandoned their comrades in battle, nor ever retreat despite superior enemy numbers and arms. Gurkhas continue to attack up to the last man. But after dedicating the best years of their fighting lives for the glory of the British Crown, the Gurkhas are faced with deprivation and deportation. These gallant fighters, considered one of the best warrior races in the world - who offered their loyalty, skills, and lives fighting England's wars - are being discarded, disposed of, and left to rot in the streets of the Kingdom they were always willing to die for. Of their countless wounds from many battles, this disgraceful treatment from the British government is the unkindest and most painful of all.

For the thousands who gathered outside Parliament many of whom are in their 70's and 80's, this may perhaps be the biggest and last battle of their lives. Among these old warriors are many who are in desperate need of medical attention; and over the last 2 years of their legal struggle, 8 have fallen dead on the streets. Known for their bravery and endurance, the men demonstrating have seen combat all over the world, including Afghanistan and Iraq, with 200,000 serving in World Wars l and ll. This current struggle tests their endurance. They have tried all avenues, even returned their medals; yet the camaraderie seen at the protest lines among their comrades should not be mistaken for lack of intensity. Beneath the gentle smile lies a cold and steely determination, inflamed by years of injustice, and forged by their natural fighting tenacity - to secure equal rights for the Gurkhas, who have pledged their lives to the Queen.

The Gurkha's solicitor Martin Howe represents 1,500 more men wanting to come to the UK, but the government is doing everything to keep them out. The Gurkhas want equal pensions as their British counterparts, like those recruited from other countries. Discrimination was also discovered in terms of salaries even when they were still in the active service. Many were made to believe that a "long period of service would entitle them to citizenship", and most Ghurkas served an average of 25 years. But the government announced in March 2008 that only those Ghurkas who signed up after July 1, 1997 will be entitled to equal pay and retirement pay with that of their British counterpart; and would be allowed to settle in England. Those who were with the British Military before this date , still in active service, and who may retire in 2017 are still not granted equal pay nor equal retirement pay, much less given the right to settle in England.

Gurkhas are from Nepal, who derived their name from a Hindu warrior-saint Guru Gorakhnath, whose descendants founded the House of Gurkha. The British were the first to use the Gurkhas after noting their physical strength, endurance, discipline, and tenacity in conflict. The Gurkhas were described as a martial race or warrior race, who inflicted heavy casualties against the British in Nepal in the 1800s. The British sued for peace with the provision that they could recruit Ghurkas to fight for the crown. From 1816 to date, Gurkhas fought for England and died for England. Prince Harry's stint with the military in Afghanistan was with the Gurkha regiment to ensure his safety.

Every year Ghurka applicants seek acceptance in the British military, with 28,000 young and robust men vying for 200 slots. It is described as one of the toughest selection procedures in the world, aside from the fact that it is fiercely contested, often resulting in death among many applicants. These soldiers still carry their traditional weapon into battle, an 18 inch knife called "kukri". It is believed that once drawn, the kukri needs to taste blood, otherwise, it's spirit will work against its owner. This is the reason why Gurkhas cut themselves when no opportunity to take the fight to the enemy arises, after the knife has been drawn from its sheath.

Today, the old warriors who have served in various wars have come to England at great cost to themselves. They are being ignored by the citizens who do not understand their cause; they are being barred by officials who have been told to keep them away; they are being computed by members of parliament as a line item and are being certified as "unaffordable".The Gurkhas are not being valued but demeaned, tagged with a price that reduces their contributions and prepares them to receive a pittance that's next to nothing. The scandalous manner in which these warriors are received and treated does not speak well of a civilized country, whose declarartions of a noble history are overshadowed by this barbaric display of unmitigated incivility and outright crudeness.

Perhaps the Parliamentarians are looking at the willingness of the old Ghurkas to die for the Kingdom, from disease, organ failure, and fatigue. This is a substantial underestimation of the patience and resolve of these warriors. With their honor mortally injured, the Gurkhas may yet unleash what remains of their tenacity at the frivolity of these Parliamentarians, where the lawmakers' shoulders become lonesome for their heads.



The Fitness Diva said...

It's a shame the way almost every country treats the men that fought to defend it. Here in the US, war vets live the same struggle, mostly ignored and pushed aside by a system that no longer has any use for them.
It's a shame, really. I think there should be a such thing as "hug a Vet day", because without them, many of us would not enjoy the freedom and privileges that we do today.

By the way, these look to be men of Asian descent. What country did these Gurkas originate from?

Until your post, I'd never heard anything about them.

Tim said...

This is truly shameful!

Jena Isle said...

Hi Durano,

I remember our very own US war veterans who were demanding citizenship and equal rights as their US counterpart. Whatever happened to it now? I lost track. These Ghurkas are similar with our veterans here.

From Fitness diva's comment , even their own citizens are ignored because they are no longer useful. How can a nation say that it promotes liberty and freedom if it could not treat its veterans well?
(Directed to the nations who do this ) Just asking...

As usual a brilliant and very informative post, and entertaining too. Happy blogging.

SheR. said...

A salute to those brave warriors and may someone give them justice soon!
If I'm not wrong, there are Gurkhas residing in SG too. Fighting the Second World WAr and fending ou land. They are highly regarded in our society. True warriors and extremely loyal.

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi Fitness Diva,

The Gurkhas are from Nepal, an Asian country close to Tibet.

You're right about the war vets. Even among those who recently came from Iraq and Afghanistan, the rate of suicides is alarmingly high. I also made a post about the shabby conditions of those wounded in battle.

Treatment of those with psychological traumas are not very thorough, such that suicides become prevalent.

The courage of the Gurkhas are legendary, and they have been consistent throughout their long history. :-) --Durano, done!

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi Tim,

It's an atrocity. To treat such men with so much disdain and to dishonor them with deprivation.

If it's any consolation, the UK is not the only country that does this, the US too is guilty of the same thing, as with Russia.

But it's no consolation really. After they have been used, discarding them like unwanted rags is no way to treat human beings; much less those who sacrificed so much, so that their citizens and their wealthy industrialists' interests could be preserved, protected, and enjoyed. :-) --Durano, done!

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi Jena Isle,

It is very similar to the plight of our own veterans who up to now are languishing in poverty in America.

There have been promises from both Democrats and Republicans, but just like the Native Americans said, they speak with forked tongues.

I don't know if the next US President will finally give them their due. Their numbers are being decimated by old age and disease. If they can deny their own war veterans, what more those of other nations?

It is a losing battle that has brought hardship and disillusionment to many. The saddest part is that our own leaders may have abandoned them, using them only as a leverage when it's convenient. That's one reason why politicians cannot be taken seriously for their word - it does not mean much and is not worth the saliva spent. :-) --Durano, done!

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hello Sher, My Dear Friend

Yes Sher, there are Gurkhas in Singapore who were part of the British forces in Malaysia during world war 2. They fought in Malaysia, Guam, Singapore and many other islands in the south seas.

Some have stayed and have been integrated in the Malaysian and Singapore security forces. There are Gurkhas in Singapore who are also part of the Police Force. They are loyal, trustworthy, and possess so much integrity.

Thanks for dropping by. Have a nice weekend! :-) --Durano, done!

r said...

It does rather sound as if the Gurkhas should resurrect their battle-ready stance from 19th century Nepal, and bring the kukri into service for a far better cause than defense of a now defunct empire. Down with the Crown!

I agree with you, Durano, and certainly hope they win this one. They sure as hell deserve it!

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi "r",

If the kukri is put into harness by these older Gurkha soldiers against Parliament, there's no stopping the bloodshed. I don't think they should put down the Crown though, otherwise no official payment and recognition can be made.

Besides, thy have pledged themselves to the Queen, so it's just Parliament and the Prime Minister. With that, I say go for it! LOL! :-) --Durano, done!

SheR. said...

Hi!! The brave Gurkhas won their fight! :)

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi Sher,

Yes! Hoooooray! It's a great victory and a well deserved one.

It should be followed by other countries with similar situations. Hooray too for the parliamentarians who voted in their favor. :-) --Durano, done!