Two black paratroopers are suing the British Army over claims that they suffered racial abuse from fellow soldiers while part of the 3rd Battalion Parachute Regiment, a unit noted in history for fighting the Nazi regime during the second world war.
Lance Corporal Nkululeko Zulu and Private Hani Gue, both members of the regiment, otherwise known as 3 Para, told an employment tribunal on Tuesday that they were subjected to racial slurs like “black c–t” and “n—–” and were discriminated on the job, The Telegraph reports.
They claimed that some of the soldiers decorated their barracks with Nazi flags and pictures of Adolf Hitler while their faces (Zulu and Gue) were defaced with swastikas and Hitler moustaches.
Presenting the evidence at the tribunal, the two black paratroopers specifically touched on what they described as a stunning experience in 2017 when the battalion was stationed in Kenya.
According to one of the complainants, Ugandan Private Gue, white soldiers then called local troops “African animals” and “f—ing” and “n—-rs”. The soldiers would usually tell local children asking for coins to: “f–k off.” Yet, senior officers found nothing wrong with such comments, he said.
Gue, who left City University London, where he was studying criminology and sociology, to join the Army in October 2012, said: “I wanted to join the parachute regiment in particular, as I was inspired by the Regiment’s history of fighting the racist Nazi regime during World War Two.
“I was extremely proud to be part of the Parachute Regiment and was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, A Company, where I started my employment as a Light Machine Gunner.
“Unfortunately, my experiences of racial harassment and discrimination during the course of my employment have led me to realise that the Army is not the honourable institution I once thought it to be.”
“In the early stages of my career I heard my colleagues use racial slurs such as ‘n—–‘ and ‘p—‘ on numerous occasions.
“This was often passed off as ‘banter’, although I found it very intimidating and offensive as a non-white person,” he told the tribunal.
“My experience in A Company had an extreme psychological impact on me, leading me to make the decision to change my surname from Gue-Hassan to Gue.
“This was because Hassan is Muslim and I thought it would make me more prone to racial abuse if I continued to be known by this name.”
The Ugandan former soldier further alleged that when he and the battalion were deployed to Kenya on Exercise Askari Storm in November 2017, they were told in the welcome brief that “we should not behave badly while in Kenya or we would go to prison and get Aids.”
“I was stunned by the racial abuse I witnessed during Exercise Askari Storm.
“I confided in Mr Zulu about how I was feeling and he shared my feelings of hurt and anger.
“He told me about the time that he was referred to as a ‘black c–t by Sergeant Andy White, and that the Army never seemed to take any action against this, which infuriated me,” he said.
Gue, who is now suing the Army for racial harassment and discrimination, said he asked for early termination on January 18, 2018, when he got back to England. Days after his termination was granted, a photograph of he and his colleague, Zulu, was defaced, he said.
“I was horrified to see that someone had drawn swastikas, Hitler moustaches and the words ‘f— off’ on the photograph of myself and Mr Zulu.”
Lawyer for the ministry of defence, Simon Tibbitts, has, however, argued that the claimants are “exaggerating” and that soldiers stationed in Kenya usually have to use “quite firm words” against beggars near the military base, the UK newspaper, the Morning Star, said.
“Our personnel should be able to work in an environment free from harassment, intimidation and discrimination and we take all complaints very seriously.
“It would not be appropriate to comment on the case while proceedings are on-going,” a spokesperson from the ministry of defence was quoted by The Telegraph. The tribunal, due to last nine more days, continues.
The 3rd Battalion Parachute Regiment, which is currently on active duty in Afghanistan, had earlier met widespread criticism after they allegedly used a picture of leftist Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as target practice.