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Joanna backs hunger strike Gurkhas to win pension justice battle

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Yesterday was the ninth day of not eating for the Support Our Gurkhas protesters.

The actress and campaigner said ministers “cannot praise our veterans to the high heavens when it suits them, but ignore them and condemn them to poverty when it doesn’t”.

Gurkhas are Nepalese-born soldiers who have been recruited into the British army since 1815, fighting most recently in Iraq, Afghanistan and the former Yugoslavia.

Ms Lumley joined forces with the Daily Express in 2009 in a successful campaign to get Gurkhas settlement rights in Britain.

The 75-year-old Absolutely Fabulous star was born in India and moved to England as a child. Her father was a major in the Gurkha Rifles.

Joanna, inset, said: “Seeing such brave and loyal Gurkha British Army veterans feeling they have no option but to take the drastic step of entering a hunger strike will be deeply upsetting to the vast majority of the public.

“Only a deep sense of injustice could drive these brave and respectful souls to this point.At the heart of this matter is how we value those who have offered, and sometimes given, the ultimate sacrifice to protect our way of life and to keep us safe.

“I urge the Government to meet these veterans and to find some way to address the injustices highlighted.”

But in a sign that the Government will not meet the demands of the protesters, defence secretary Ben Wallace said: “No government of any colour has ever retrospectively changed pensions.

“I am very happy to meet any Gurkha,” he added. “My father fought alongside the Gurkhas in Malaya in the 1950s. They are a pretty remarkable group of people.”

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