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White poppy ceremony will hear from bereaved families in Israel and Palestine

White poppy wreath

White poppy ceremony will hear from bereaved families in Israel and Palestine

White poppies will appear in numerous ceremonies across the UK today to mark Remembrance Sunday.

The number of ceremonies featuring white poppies is the highest in years, and includes official remembrance events with both red and white poppies, as well as alternative ceremonies focusing on the message of the white poppy.

This year is the 90th anniversary of the white poppy, which stands for remembrance of all victims of war, both civilian and military, as well as a commitment to peace and a rejection of war and militarism.

The National Alternative Remembrance Ceremony takes place every year in Tavistock Square, London, in front of the Conscientious Objectors Commemorative Stone. It is organised by the Peace Pledge Union (PPU). White poppy wreaths will be laid in memory of all victims of all wars, including those happening now in Israel and Palestine, Ukraine, the South Caucasus, Yemen and elsewhere.

This year, those attending will hear a message sent by the Parents Circle – Families Forum (PCFF), a joint Israeli-Palestinian organisation of over 600 families, all of whom have lost an immediate family member to the ongoing conflict.

The statement by PCFF, which the PPU has seen in advance, will express their deep sorrow for the thousands of dead and will condemn the shocking acts of violence on all sides:

"Thousands of victims aren't just numbers, they represent shattered dreams, unfulfilled futures and broken loves... The past weeks have brought upon us seemingly never-ending shock and storms of emotions. We fear the future and pray that the cursed war ends as soon as possible, that violent incidents will not break out in other places, and that the killing from both sides will stop."

The PCFF statement will also reassert their commitment to a peaceful political process. "This is a call to action for leaders, communities and individuals, to find solutions that favor justice, sustainable peace and reconciliation, over continuing through hate and revenge... As Palestinians and Israelis, this statement is a testament to our joint determination to end the occupation, the pain, the violence and suffering that has plagued the region for so long."

The statement will be read by Isabel Kelly, from the UK support group for PCFF.

Other speakers will address the need for peace, justice and reconciliation in the region. Pat Gaffney is vice president of Pax Christi and will speak about the organisation's ongoing work with peace campaigners in Israel and Palestine. Richard Kuper will represent Jews for Justice for Palestinians (JJP), an organisation closely involved in recent demonstrations calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.

Further ceremonies will take place in Bradford, Brighton, Edinburgh, Leeds, Oxford and elsewhere. In several places, such as Leicester, white poppies have become an established part of official remembrance events in recent years.

There has been an unprecedented rush of orders for white poppies ahead of Remembrance Day this year, following increased interest from groups and individuals calling for a ceasefire in Israel and Gaza.

White poppies were widely seen at ceasefire demonstrations on Remembrance Day, the day before Remembrance Sunday. PPU members attended the protests in London and other places, distributing white poppies. The PPU has repeatedly criticised the government backlash against the Remembrance Day demonstrations, arguing that peaceful demonstrations against war are entirely consistent with remembering the victims of war.

The National Alternative Remembrance Ceremony will start at 12 midday in Tavistock Square, London. All are welcome to attend. Details of more events featuring white poppies can be found on the PPU's events page.