MILITARY veterans are among those rejecting the government’s criticism of demonstrations planned for today (11 November), stating that “there’s no more appropriate day to call for an armistice.” The protests calling for a ceasefire to end the bloodshed in Israel and Palestine are expected to draw hundreds of thousands of people.

Government rhetoric against the protests has escalated in recent days, with Home Secretary Suella Braverman describing the protests as ‘hate marches’ and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak criticising them as “provocative and disrespectful”. Inaccurate reports that the London march would ‘target’ the Cenotaph led to calls for it to be banned. The protest organisers have clarified that the march will go nowhere near the Cenotaph, and will start long after the two minutes silence at 11 o’clock.

Veterans have now joined those criticising the government’s stance and supporting the calls for a ceasefire. John Lynes, a veteran and a Quaker said: “The armistice we commemorate on 11 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.”

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.”

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.”

Another veteran, Gerry Osborne, told the Peace Pledge Union (PPU) he could not be there on Saturday but “will be 100 per cent 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.” 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.”

Along with veterans the Peace Pledge Union (PPU) 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. 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 Sunday 12 November will include messages from The Parents Circle-Families Forum, 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, a UK network of Jews campaigning against the Israeli occupation, for freedom, peace and justice in Palestine.

* Source: Peace Pledge Union