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Alternative Remembrance Ceremony will hear from Ukrainian and Russian peace activists

White poppy wreaths

Alternative Remembrance Ceremony will hear from Ukrainian and Russian peace activists

White poppy wearers will hear messages from people in Russia and Ukraine at the National Alternative Remembrance Ceremony.

The ceremony will be held at 12.00 noon on Sunday in Tavistock Square, London on Sunday (13 November) It is open to anyone to join either in person or online.

Alternative Remembrance events will also take place in other towns and cities, including Brighton, Birmingham and Bradford.

The ceremony in London will include a message recorded by Yurii Sheliazhenko, secretary of the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement, from his home in Kyiv. A statement will be read from the Russian Movement for Conscientious Objectors, whose members have refused to take part in Putin’s invasion.

Other speakers will include comedian and commentator Kate Smurthwaite, along with Greenham Common veteran and anti-nuclear researcher Rebecca Johnson.

Wreaths of white poppies will be laid and there will be two minutes’ silence to remember all victims of war, both civilians and armed forces personnel, of all nationalities.

The event is organised by the Peace Pledge Union (PPU), distributors of white poppies. The white poppy stands for remembrance for all victims of war, a commitment to peace and a rejection of militarism.

Meanwhile, white poppies will also feature in mainstream Remembrance ceremonies in certain cities. For the first time, the Lord Mayor of Bristol will lay a mixed wreath of red and white poppies at the city’s official Remembrance Sunday ceremony. Events organised by Leicester University involve both red and white poppy wreaths.

This year's white poppy campaign has been endorsed by several prominent figures, including Oscar-winning actor Mark Rylance and poet Benjamin Zephaniah.

Yurii Sheliazhenko of the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement, whose message from Kyiv will be played at the ceremony, said:

I am speaking from Ukraine, where the Russian invasion took tens of thousands of lives and may take much more because leaders in Moscow, Kyiv and Washington intend to fight indefinitely for total victory. I wish every year people recalled the horrors of war, gradually getting rid of armies and weapons, strengthening nonviolent way of life and culture of peace.

It would be natural to strive for the removal of all causes of war after honest commemoration of cruel and pointless bloodshed a century ago. Unfortunately, instead of a century of honest commemoration we had a century of lies. Some people still remember what a shameful carnage every war is, wearing white poppies to remember all killed lives, including civilians, not only soldiers.”

The Peace Pledge Union have refuted claims made on social media by Felicity Cornelius-Mercer, wife of the Tory Minister for Veterans, Johnny Mercer. She described the Alternative Remembrance Ceremony as “pathetic” and “attention-seeking”. The PPU said this was a shameful way to describe an act of remembrance for people who have died in war.

Her comments came only hours before Johnny Mercer’s colleague James Heappey (Minister for the Armed Forces) said that people should not be “shamed” for wearing white poppies.