Anti-war veterans to carry white-poppy wreath to Cenotaph
Samuel Clements, Joe Krishnan, The Independent, Saturday 01 November 2014
Former SAS serviceman Ben Griffin says they will honour all of those killed
in war 'including civilians and foreign soldiers'
A former soldier who set up an organisation for veterans campaigning against
war will lead an alternative Remembrance Service next Sunday.
Ben Griffin founded Veterans For Peace in 2011 after discovering many war
veterans supported his disillusion towards war. A former serviceman in the
Parachute Regiment and Special Air Service division, he was discharged from
the army in 2005 for refusing to continue serving in Iraq. In 2008 he spoke
to an anti-war rally about UK involvement in extraordinary rendition the day
before he was served with an injunction preventing him from speaking
publicly about his time in the SAS.
As part of the service, veterans will walk to the Cenotaph memorial outside
Whitehall, London, under the banner 'Never Again' carrying a wreath of white
poppies to acknowledge civilians killed in modern warfare. They will also
wear t-shirts bearing the message 'War is Organised Murder', a quote from
Harry Patch, the last survivor of the First World War.
Griffin says they will honour all of those killed in war "including
civilians and foreign soldiers", but insists their primary objective is to
educate the general population on the "true nature of warfare and to resist
war and militarism through nonviolent action".
Here he answers questions - which were restricted by the injunction he is
still under - about his plans.
I served in the Parachute Regiment and Special Air Service on operations in
Ireland, Macedonia, Afghanistan and Iraq. I founded Veterans For Peace UK in
2011 after realising that there were many other veterans who after
experiencing war wanted to campaign against it.
Could you describe what type of organisation Veterans For Peace is?
We are an organisation of former servicemen and women who have come to the
realisation that war is irrational and immoral and want to campaign against
it. We have members from all three services with experiences ranging from
D-day to Afghanistan. We work to educate the general population on the true
nature of warfare and to resist war and militarism through nonviolent
How have Veterans For Peace been received by other organisations?
We have not received any negative communication from other veterans groups.
Many veterans who do not consider themselves anti-war respect us and our
work. Groups within the Peace Movement have been supportive of us.
What are Veterans For Peace planning for Sunday 9 November?
On Remembrance Sunday 9 November 2014 Veterans For Peace UK will walk to The
Cenotaph under the banner 'Never Again'. The message on the back of our tops
will read "War is Organised Murder" which is a quote from Harry Patch, the
last survivor of The Western Front who he died in 2009. We will lay a wreath
of predominantly white poppies to acknowledge the fact that the majority of
those killed in modern warfare are civilians.
Why are Veterans For Peace walking on Sunday 9th November?
We think that the annual campaign run by The Royal British Legion has little
to do with remembrance and is waged in order to promote unquestioning
support for the military and war. We have been told by the RBL that the
official ceremony is only to remember British war dead and that foreign
veterans are not welcome. We want to remember all of those killed in war
including civilians and foreign soldiers. We also want to send a clear
message that we have experienced war and it should not be glorified.
What are Veterans For Peace hoping to achieve through this demonstration?
A lot of people feel uneasy about the militaristic nature of the official
ceremony and that politicians that take a central role. We will provide a
truly peace-minded ceremony organised entirely by veterans that others are
welcome to follow and observe. We want to send a clear message to our
government, most of whom have never served in the military or experienced
war first hand, that war is not glorious.
Have you received any hostility or pressure from the authorities?
Personally yes, after speaking out about the immoral and illegal nature of
operations I carried out in Iraq I was handed a lifetime injunction in the
High Court by the MOD that prevents me from telling anyone about my time in
I have been raided and arrested in my home by the Metropolitan Police for
spurious reasons on two occasions during which no charges were made. I have
been harassed on the street by members of the Metropolitan Police on many
Source: The Independent