‘White poppies stand for remembrance of all victims of war – including those it suits the UK government to forget.'
This year’s Remembrance Day risks being a ‘festival of forgetting’, the Peace Pledge Union (PPU) has warned, if the humanitarian crisis in war-torn Yemen is ignored, as well as other current wars.
The comments came as the PPU launched this year’s white poppy campaign using the slogan ‘Remember Yemen’ alongside its usual call to ‘Remember Them All’ – victims of all nationalities in all wars, including current wars and lesser-mentioned colonial wars of the past.
Adhiyan Jeevathol of London Students for Yemen, who is backing the white poppy campaign, said: ‘We should remember Yemen because we are in part responsible for the misery in Yemen if we do not take a stand against the policies of the UK government and arms companies. Through remembrance we can endeavour not to be responsible for another Yemen.’
According to reports the Covid-19 pandemic has fuelled the humanitarian crisis caused by the war in Yemen, which has already killed over 20,000 people and left ten million on the brink of starvation.
A BBC story in June reported that many of Yemen’s 3,500 medical facilities have been damaged or destroyed in air strikes, and only half are thought to be fully functioning.
Clinics were reported to be crowded, with scarce medicines and equipment. ‘In a country of 27.5 million people there are only a few hundred ventilator machines,’ it said.
Geoff Tibbs, the PPU’s Remembrance project manager, said: ‘White poppies stand for remembrance of all victims of war – including those it suits the UK government to forget. Many white poppy wearers this year will remember Yemen, where British-trained pilots are dropping bombs from British-made planes. White poppies challenge militarism, as well as the hypocrisy of those who talk of remembering the past while ignoring the present.’
While white poppy sales and remembrance events this year are likely to be affected by the ongoing pandemic, the PPU reported that there has already been an increase in orders of white poppy material for schools. This includes a new Remembrance Education Pack for both primary and secondary schools.
White poppies were founded by the Women’s Co-operative Guild in 1933. The PPU will hold its annual Alternative Remembrance Sunday Ceremony mostly online on 8 November.
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