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Amidst all the media headlines, comments, interviews etc on MP Gerald Howarth's recent remarks regarding consideration of dispersal policy for Gurkhas akin to asylum seekers, it is deeply painful to learn that the older veterans in Rushmoor seem oblivious to the extent of the hurtful remarks. In today's awareness programme attended by around 200 Gurkha veterans and their spouses (jointly organised by the excellent Farnborough Madat Samuha- a lifeline for older Gurkhas in Rushmoor, the Royal British Legion, the Mayor and the Police), many old veterans and their spouses are said to have exclaimed that they had heard from others that their MP had 'said bad things about Gurkhas' but were unaware about what it actually was, and wanted to know what it would mean for them.
Many are also said to have shared their bewilderment at increasingly callous treatment from locals, mainly youths e.g. verbal abuse, given offensive gestures, shown their naked behinds, told to go back to Nepal. Unsurprisingly, while all declared their love for Britain, many exclaimed feeling unwanted and too scared to go out. The Police is said to have reassured the group and informed them about the MP's remark and a Facebook campaign that had been launched to organise a protest in the town, but that it was mainly to highlight locals' frustration at the lack of injection of funding to support struggling service infrastructures since arrival of Gurkhas in large numbers. The Police added that following lots of discussions, the protest had been called off.
Additionally, the Police asked the group members to share with others that in future, any incidents of abuse or intimidation must not be kept hidden, but to share and seek help, including from the Police.
After a presentation by the RBL on its history and significance, the Gurkha veterans are said to have assured their full support in volunteering to raise money for the Poppy Appeal project. On the other hand, the Mayor Alex Crawford exclaimed his admiration for the initiatives started by the local Nepalese young people's group Naya Yuva, including organising a Charity cycle run to raise funds for the Mayor's charity.
Here are some pictures of the event, no doubt useful to some extent in allaying any doubts or fear among older Gurkha veterans group in Rushmoor. The pictures are courtesy of Mr. Milan Tamu, post-consent from all present at the event.
Here is more about the event from the local Mayor Alex Crawford's blog: http://mayorofrushmoor.wordpress.com/2011/09/23/royal-british-legion-wins-support-of-nepalis-for-poppy-appeal/#more-1477
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