Nadia Mitchell: Suella Braverman is the one disrespecting the Armistice. She doesn’t speak for me or my military friends

I served in the British Army between 1992 and 2000, mainly in the UK, Germany and Belize. My partner is also a veteran of the Balkans conflicts, and many of my friends are serving and ex-serving members of the military, who share my anger that people in government – most of whom have never worn a uniform, and for whom war is an abstract concept – claim to speak for the rest of us.

While I am sure they exist somewhere, I have yet to meet anyone from my own circle of military friends who has voiced genuine concerns about tomorrow’s planned march from Hyde Park to the US Embassy on Armistice Day calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.

I am horrified by the tone, language and incitement our own government is using to whip up hatred against its own citizens – citizens who are standing up in solidarity with the besieged and bombed citizens of Gaza. It is clear that our hollow and awful politicians are dog-whistling to the far right, who have responded with a call to stand pointlessly – but menacingly – around statues and the cenotaph (which, incidentally, tomorrow’s march route passes nowhere near).

So where are the many self-proclaimed free speech tsars now to defend our right to freedom of speech, assembly, and the right to protest? Undoubtedly, they are rallying behind the cruel and ridiculous rhetoric of home secretary Suella Braverman as she and her government colleagues seek to defend Israel’s right to commit war crimes on its watch, and to silence or outlaw anyone who holds the view that its actions are unacceptable. In her pursuit of this agenda, she has even taken aim at the Metropolitan Police, making them a target for far right violence by absurdly portraying them as biased toward Palestinian solidarity protesters.

Where are the voices of our opposition in all this too? Why isn’t Keir Starmer speaking for me and millions of us who have no choice but to sit idly by as we watch scenes of utter terror being inflicted upon fellow human beings – bombs falling on schools and hospitals and entire families being blown apart? I don’t want a brief ‘pause’ to allow victims to gather their broken bodies while the abuser resets themselves to deliver the next blow. I want a full ceasefire now.

Braverman does not seem to want to see a peaceful march tomorrow. She is doing everything she can to stir hatred and division, undoubtedly so she can continue her ongoing attack on the wider right to protest in the UK.

Like so many of the Armed Forces, both serving and veterans, who will be in London this weekend, I am not fooled by her faux-outrage, and she certainly does not speak for me.

Personally, I cannot think of a more appropriate day to demand a ceasefire than on the day we remember the mother of all ceasefires, to remember and honour those who sacrificed their lives in pursuit of peace and an end to war.

I will be marching for peace tomorrow. The idea being pushed that this march is somehow disrespectful to the Glorious Dead, that people like me are ‘hate marchers’ is as disrespectful as it gets to the many of us who observe and remember our friends or relatives – and all victims of war – during the silence of the Armistice. The real disrespect to the Armistice is the weaponisation of remembrance as part of the government’s wider ‘culture war’.

Source: OpenDemocracy

10 Nov 2023 by Nadia Mitchell

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