I can't remember war without striving for peace. Sisters and brothers, don't believe the warmongers. There is another way.
— Benjamin Zephaniah (@BZephaniah) November 9, 2013
On Question Time on Thursday night before this remembrance Sunday, Benjamin Zephaniah wore a white poppy, not a red one – and the BBC did their best to angle the cameras so that this would not be visible. I dropped some money in a British Legion collecting box on Friday, but refused the red poppy.
Now, we are inundated with red poppies. The BBC apparently flies them around the world so that its correspondents can wear them when they appear on camera. Studio guests are expected to wear them. Last year in London there were soldiers and military bands all over London mainline railway stations selling red poppies. Many people buy them for the best reasons: they want to remember or pay respects to the dead. Often they may oppose wars. But that is not true of the governments and institutions promoting them.
Poppy Scotland is the leading charity supporting ex-servicepeople in Scotland. Every year they have a special display and fundraiser in Princes Street Gardens by the Scott Monument. The poppies are made by Lady Haig’s Poppy Factory, an independent charity that employs 40 ex-Servicemen and women, most of whom are registered disabled.
an increase of 89% in its average expenditure through one-off grants to individuals in recent years.
These grants help veterans in urgent need with assistance such as emergency home repairs, temporary accommodation and home adaptations, as well as retraining grants to help veterans find new careers on leaving the Armed Forces.
the increase reflected increasing demand on their services as veterans found it harder to cope with life, a situation that was being exacerbated by welfare changes.
“As operations in Afghanistan continue, the needs of servicemen and women will continue to be afflicted by life-changing injuries,” she said.
“Veterans continue to suffer from mental health issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which is often not diagnosed until many years after traumatic experiences and the unique nature of service life means that veterans can have problems adapting to civilian life and may struggle with housing, employment and social isolation issues.
“We are able to cope but we could do far more had we more resources.”
Dennis Buchan took redundancy from the army after a decade in service and two tours of duty in Afghanistan to be closer to his wife and family. The bedroom tax is costing him £35 of his £71-a-week benefit, leaving him £5 a day to live on, all because there is a shortage of one-bedroom council homes in Arbroath:
When the marriage broke down, Dennis’s wife moved out of their council home to her native Belfast with their son.
Angus Council offered the former lance corporal a one-bedroom property in Brechin.
But his parents live 12 miles away in Arbroath and he needed their support as he struggled to cope with civilian life and the collapse of his marriage.
He is also doing tree-felling courses in Arbroath to help him find work.
Dennis was also offered a bedsit in Arbroath but it was unsuitable because his son could not live there when he visits.
The council then offered him temporary accommodation in a three-bedroom flat in Arbroath, which he accepted.
ATOS assessments have allowed the Department of Work and Pensions to conclude that disabled ex-soldiers don’t need DLA because “a prosthetic leg is just as good as a real one” and that anyone who can manage to walk four hundred meters – no matter how much pain that effort costs them – doesn’t need disability support.
Women In Black – for justice, against war – are
a world-wide network of women committed to peace with justice and actively opposed to injustice, war, militarism and other forms of violence. As women experiencing these things in different ways in different regions of the world, we support each other’s movements. An important focus is challenging the militarist policies of our own governments. We are not an organisation, but a means of communicating and a formula for action.
The majority of those killed in any war since the 1930s have been civilians, not soldiers.
- Dona Nobis Pace – Cantata for Peace. St John’s Church, Edinburgh, Remembrance Sunday, 10th November, 6 pm.
- Remembering All Victims of War, outside Edinburgh’s Peace and Justice Centre, Monday, 11th November, 6 – 6:30pm
‘War is a crime against humanity. I
renounce war, and am therefore
determined not to support any kind
of war. I am also determined to work
for the removal of all causes of war.’