News release - 12 November 2017

 

Alternative Remembrance Sunday Ceremony hears from people suffering in current wars

 

 

White poppy wearers have held an Alternative Remembrance Sunday Ceremony only a short walk from the official ceremony at the Cenotaph.

Laying a wreath of white poppies to remember all victims of war, they heard first-hand accounts of people in areas currently affected by war and military occupation, including Yemen and Palestine.

The event, organised by the Peace Pledge Union (PPU), took place at 12.00 noon in Tavistock Square, London WC1. Those present included people of varying backgrounds, ages and beliefs, including former members of the UK armed forces.

Speakers included PPU member Sam Walton, who was recently found Not Guilty of criminal damage after attempting to disarm warplanes bound for Saudi use in Yemen. Sam brought a message from people affected by war in Yemen, thanking those present for remembering them and campaigning against arms sales.

Sam pointed out that even on Remembrance Sunday, as Theresa May talks of remembering the dead, Yemeni civilians are likely to be killed by Saudi forces with UK-made weapons.

Other contributors included Chloe Skinner, who has recently worked with Christian Peacemaker Teams to support human rights and nonviolence in Hebron in Palestine. Several of those present were moved to tears as Chloe named people whose deaths she had witnessed in Hebron, and encouraged remembrance for Palestinian and Israeli victims of war.

Chloe Skinner began by remembering Hadeel Hashlamoon, an 18-year-old Palestinian woman shot by Israeli troops in 2015 in Hebron, when Chloe was living there. She said:

“Behind every death, is a story of life, hidden in the militarist narratives such as those that describe Hadeel’s death as ‘the neutralisation of a threat’… Those teens who shot her of course had stories, interests, childhoods, families, and doubtless a history of indoctrination into separation, fear and control. And so, I want also name here the loss precipitated in the act of killing. As one Israeli soldier explained to me, it was when he killed, that he felt a part of his soul die.”

Chloe concluded:

“I want to repent for, and mourn our collective complicity in militarised violence, and the inequality which both upholds and is reinforced by it… Let us remember, and let us be encouraged, and let us build a new world. We have a capacity for peace, just as we have a capacity for violence. Let us choose peace.”

After the brief speeches, those present observed two minutes’ silence for all victims of war before laying the PPU’s wreath of white poppies. Other individuals and families then laid their own wreaths and flowers.

The wreaths were laid on the conscientious objectors’ memorial stone, although the PPU emphasised that the ceremony was to remember all people harmed or killed in war, whether conscientious objectors, other civilians or members of armed forces.

Closing the ceremony, the PPU’s Peter Glasgow recalled the women who had founded white poppies in 1933, following their experience of losing loved ones in the first world war. Peter spoke of “the true voice of remembrance”, which does not involve “the trappings of militarism”.

Other alternative Remembrance events have taken place around the UK, many of them organised by local peace groups or faith communities and often involving white poppies.

ENDS

 

Notes to editors

1. White poppies represent remembrance for all victims of war, a rejection of militarism and a commitment to peace. They were founded by the Women's Co-operative Guild in 1933 and are now distributed by the Peace Pledge Union (PPU).

2. The Peace Pledge Union (PPU) is a UK-based pacifist network. PPU members pledge not to support war and to work instead for the removal of the causes of war. The PPU's work includes challenging militarism, promoting active nonviolence, providing educational resources on peace, maintaining records on conscientious objection and encouraging remembrance for all victims of war. Founded in 1934, the PPU is the oldest secular pacifist organisation in the UK. The PPU is the British section of War Resisters’ International. See www.ppu.org.uk and @PPUtoday.

3. The PPU has sold around 100,000 white poppies each year in the last four years. This is the highest figure since white poppies were first worn in 1933. As of 8 November this year, sales stood at just over 97,500.

4. Several local groups selling white poppies donate the money to charities supporting victims of war. At a national level, much of the money raised by white poppies goes towards producing, distributing and publicising them. Any more raised above this goes towards the PPU's education and campaigning work, promoting nonviolent approaches to conflict and challenging militarism.

5. More information about white poppies can be found at www.ppu.org.uk and www.whitepoppy.org.uk.

6. The Alternative Remembrance Sunday Ceremony was organised by the Peace Pledge Union and took place at 12.00 noon on Remembrance Sunday (12 November 2017).

7. Other alternative Remembrance events have been planned at various places around the UK. See http://www.ppu.org.uk/newsx/UpcomingEvents.html.

8. For more information or photographs, media should contact Symon Hill on 020 7424 9444 or at coordinator@ppu.org.uk.

Alternative Remembrance Sunday Ceremony