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White poppy wearers to hold Alternative Remembrance Sunday Ceremonies

White poppy wreath

White poppy wearers to hold Alternative Remembrance Sunday Ceremonies

White poppy wreaths will be laid throughout Britain this weekend to commemorate all victims of war of all nationalities. 

The national Alternative Remembrance Sunday Ceremony will take place at 1.00pm on Sunday 11 November in Tavistock Square, London. It has been organised by the Peace Pledge Union and ten other organisations that make up the First World War Peace Forum. 

Similar events are taking place in cities in cities such as Glasgow, Leeds and Exeter, as well as smaller towns including Pembroke, Saddleworth, Peterborough and Leamington Spa. At Liverpool there will be an event to remember conscientious objectors incarcerated in the city's Walton Prison in World War One. Local events are mostly organised by local peace groups or faith-based organisations. 

White poppies represent remembrance for all victims of war of all nationalities, a commitment to peace and a rejection of militarism. Over 120,000 white poppies have been sold this year, by the Peace Pledge Union (PPU). This is the highest figure since white poppies were introduced, in 1933. 

The PPU say that remembering the horrors of war naturally leads them to a rejection of war and a commitment to working for peace. 

They have criticised Theresa May and her colleagues for laying wreaths to remember the war dead while continuing to sell weapons around the world, maintaining the seventh highest military budget in the world and expecting veterans to rely on charity rather than receiving support from the state that sent them to war. 

The Alternative Remembrance Sunday Ceremony in London will include a contribution from actor Michael Mears, who will read from a speech by leading First World War pacifist Clifford Allen, delivered shortly after the end of the war and after he had been released from prison. 

Two minutes' silence will be observed and at least eleven organisations will lay wreaths to remember the victims of war. Other groups and individuals will then be invited to lay their own wreaths and individual flowers. 

The ceremony will be followed by other events in London, including a festival called Peaceful Futures at Friends House, Euston Road, from 2.00pm. At 3.00pm, members of Veterans for Peace will lay a wreath of white and red poppies at the Cenotaph. 

Symon Hill of the Peace Pledge Union said:

“100 years after the end of World War One, it is vital that we learn from its failure to be 'the war to end wars'. War has been spectacularly failing to solve human problems for centuries. Remembering the horrors of war and commemorating its victims leads us to campaign for peace and to engage in nonviolent resistance to war and militarism. If we don't learn from the past, we are condemned to repeat it.” 

Steve Heaney, an RAF veteran from North Wales who is travelling to London to join the Alternative Remembrance Sunday Ceremony, said:

"I have been dismayed and enraged in equal measure to see British politicians cry their crocodile tears of 'never again' at the Cenotaph. Tony Blair laid a wreath in 2002 while planning the invasion of Iraq. Cameron and May take their turn at the Cenotaph while veterans are disproportionately represented in prison populations, as homeless and suffering mental health issues. It's shameful." 

People of many backgrounds, beliefs and ages are expected to attend tomorrow's ceremonies. Amongst the people at the ceremony in London will be Jitei White, who has walked to the London ceremony from Lancaster as a 'Great Walk for Peace'.

Supportive messages have been sent by politicians including Green Party Co-Leader Jonathan Bartley, former Plaid Cymru Leader Leanne Wood and prominent Labour councillor and activist Maya Evans