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WHITE poppy wreaths were laid across Britain today during alternative Remembrance Sunday ceremonies to commemorate all victims of war.
A two-minute silence was observed while pro-peace organisations laid the wreaths.
The wreaths have often been vandalised or removed in the past, but the Peace Pledge Union (PPU), which distributes white poppies, insisted that they will not be intimidated by people who object to remembrance for victims of all nationalities.
Ceremonies took place in London, Glasgow, Leeds and Exeter as well as some smaller towns, organised by PPU and other organisations from the First World War Peace Forum.
White poppies represent a commitment to peace and a rejection of militarism, addressing all victims in comparison to red poppies, which the British Legion says pays tribute to British and allied arms forces personnel only.
The PPU has criticised Prime Minister Theresa May and her colleagues for laying wreaths to remember the dead while continuing to sell weapons around the world and expecting veterans to rely on charity rather than receiving support from the state that sent them to war.
Symon Hill of the PPU said: “One hundred years after the end of World War I, 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 non-violent resistance to war and militarism.
“If we don’t learn from the past, we are condemned to repeat it.”
Members of Veterans for Peace laid wreaths of red and white poppies at the Cenotaph in London, where the regular Armistice ceremony also took place, attended by figures including Ms May and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
RAF veteran Steve Heaney from north Wales, who joined the ceremony in London, 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.”
A “people’s march” in central London saw 10,000 participants carrying wreaths stream past the Cenotaph to thank those who fought in the first world war.
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