Remember the dead by renouncing war, say British pacifists

By staff writers
November 9, 2010

The Peace Pledge Union (PPU) has urged people in Britain to honour the dead on Remembrance Day by renouncing warfare.

The PPU, a leading British pacifist organisation, said, “The memory of those killed in warfare is best served by ensuring that such deaths never happen again. And the only sensible way of doing this is by a renunciation of warfare and a rejection of the outmoded idea that problems and conflicts can be solved by force of arms.”

The PPU are perhaps best known for their production of the White Poppy, which thousands of people wear either instead of or as well as the Red Poppy. The White Poppy signifies remembrance for all who have died in war by the renunciation of war and a commitment to nonviolent alternatives.

The PPU welcomed the government's cuts in military spending, but called for much deeper and more radical cuts. They want an end to troop deployment in Afghanistan, and the cancelling of Trident and of new aircraft carriers.

But they were keen to emphasise that these cuts should be “steps towards the complete and unconditional phasing out of the British armed forces”.

They added that the human, financial and material resources that would be save could be used to safeguard “real human needs” and to help to provide “genuine security” for humans and for the planet.

“When politicians and military leaders take part in ceremonies where they say they are
mourning the dead of past conflicts, and then go back to their offices the next day to plan
the next war, it is hard to trust their sincerity,” declared the PPU's statement, “For pacifists, regret at past deaths in war must entail a personal and institutional renunciation of future warfare”.

The Union said that they were “pleased to note” that remembrance ceremonies are now less frequently used as an occasion to glorify war, but added that they are still often tied up with attempts to justify current armed conflicts.

With regards to the collections for veterans carried out around Remembrance Day, the PPU declared that, “A civilised society should provide adequate support for all injured and bereaved (irrespective of the cause) - without the need for the Royal British Legion, or other charities, to rattle tins for donations”.

They suggested that a redirection of the resources currently used on armaments would
make this world much easier to achieve.

The PPU includes pacifists of many religions and of none. The Union works alongside other peace organisations, including the Fellowship of Reconciliation, which is based on Christian pacifism.

The White Poppy was launched in the 1930s after the producers of the Red Poppy refused to print “No more war” in the centre of the poppy.

The Royal British Legion, who produce the Red Poppy, say that it is intended to remember troops who have died fighting for the UK. However, a poll conducted last year by ComRes - on behalf of the Ekklesia thinktank – found that 87 per cent of the British public believe that “the dead on all sides” should be mourned on Remembrance Day.


Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.