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Veterans endorse Remembrance Day demonstrations and dismiss government backlash

National Demonstration Ceasefire Now, London

Veterans endorse Remembrance Day demonstrations and dismiss government backlash

Veterans are among those rejecting the government’s criticism of demonstrations planned for 11th November, stating that “there’s no more appropriate day to call for an armistice.” 

Government rhetoric against the protests has escalated in recent days. Rishi Sunak criticised the protests as “provocative and disrespectful”, leading to calls to ban the London march and fuelling inaccurate claims that protests will target the Cenotaph. Suella Braverman, who has described the protests as "hate marches", has since turned on the Metropolitan Police for refusing to prevent the demonstration in London this Saturday.

The protests are expected to draw hundreds of thousands of people calling for a ceasefire to end the bloodshed in Israel and Palestine.

Veterans have now joined those criticising the government backlash and supporting the calls for a ceasefire. Joe Glenton, an army veteran and journalist for ForcesWatch, said, “there’s no more appropriate day to call for an armistice, i.e. a ceasefire, than Armistice Day – that is literally what the day commemorates.”

Responding to disinformation about the protests, the protest organisers have clarified that the march will go nowhere near the Cenotaph and will start well after the two minutes silence at 11-o-clock.

Along with veterans, the Peace Pledge Union (PPU), the UK's leading pacifist organisation, is supporting the Remembrance Day demonstrations, saying that peaceful protest against war is entirely consistent with remembering the victims of war. The PPU will be distributing white poppies on the march in London, representing remembrance for all victims of war, both civilians and members of the armed forces, and a commitment to peace. 

Veterans’ comments throw into question assumptions that veterans will oppose the protest this Saturday.

John Lynes, a veteran and Quaker, said, “The armistice we commemorate on 11th November was a ceasefire. To dismiss, on Armistice Day of all days, the call for a ceasefire… is to dishonour the memory of our fallen comrades.” 

Veteran David Lawrence said he does “not think it disrespectful to protest against a slaughter of civilians in a one-sided war over Remembrance weekend… The crimes committed by Hamas are inexcusable along with the kidnapping of civilians but killing ten thousand Palestinians in revenge is a massive crime. Mass killings is not self-defence.” 

Paul Andrews, who served in the Royal Air Force in the 70s and 80s, said, “We need to recognise all victims affected by armed conflict not just ex-service men/women.” He added, “Remembrance Day is more than just remembering those killed but, as important, reflecting on what we need to be doing to avoid wars in the future… [I] would fully endorse calling for a ceasefire in Gaza and letting this be known through active participation in Remembrance Day this weekend.” 

Veterans will march alongside thousands of others, including many PPU members and white poppy wearers, in London this weekend.

Another veteran, Gerry Osborne, told the PPU he could not be there on Saturday but “will be 100% with you in spirit.” He added, “At the age of 19, it was obvious to me that the biggest victims of war were the non-combatants, i.e. the most innocent…Gaza confirmed this opinion as sharply as is possible.” 

As well as the demonstrations, many white poppy remembrance ceremonies will be happening across the UK on Remembrance Day and Remembrance Sunday. 

The National Alternative Remembrance Ceremony in London on 12th November will include messages from The Parents Circle - Families Forum (PCFF), a joint Israeli-Palestinian organisation of over 600 families; Pax Christi, with a message about their ongoing work with peace campaigners in Israel and Palestine; and Jews for Justice for Palestine (JJP), a UK network of Jews campaigning against the Israeli occupation, for freedom, peace and justice in Palestine. 

You can find more information about the National Ceremony here