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British Legion urged not to backtrack on inclusion of civilians in Remembrance

White and red poppy wreaths in Bath, 2018

British Legion urged not to backtrack on inclusion of civilians in Remembrance

As they prepare to launch their red poppy appeal, the Royal British Legion have been encouraged to stand by their decision to include civilian victims of war in Remembrance events.

The Peace Pledge Union (PPU), who produce white poppies, urged the Legion to stand by the change as they seem to be playing it down.

The Legion’s policy was changed last week, with their website stating, “We acknowledge innocent civilians who have lost their lives in conflict and acts of terrorism”. They previously stated, "The Legion advocates a specific type of Remembrance connected to the British armed forces, those who were killed, those who fought with them and alongside them".

The PPU described the change as a step in the right direction.

Following media reports about the change, the Legion appeared to backtrack, telling the media that they had not changed their policy, only “clarified” it.

A poll conducted by Populus, published last week, showed that 86% of UK adults support including civilians in Remembrance. In addition, 83% supported including people of all nationalities killed in war and 85% agreed that "Remembrance Sunday should primarily have a message of peace".

The Peace Pledge Union's white poppies stand for remembrance for all victims of war, both civilian and military, of all nationalities, as well as a commitment to peace.

Geoff Tibbs, Remembrance Project Manager at the Peace Pledge Union, said:

"The British Legion need to stick by their decision to include civilians. The recent polling makes clear that a majority of the British public want a more inclusive Remembrance that carries a message of peace, and this has always been the meaning of white poppies.

“The Legion's decision to include civilians is a step in the right direction, but we need to go much further. Politicians and local communities not be afraid to put peace and inclusivity at the centre of Remembrance events this year. We encourage them to remember people of all nationalities, including both civilians and members of armed forces."