Each month, we will feature a different WRI affiliate. This month it's the Peace Pledge Union from the UK.
The Peace Pledge Union (PPU) is the British section of War Resisters’ International. As a paciﬁst network, we challenge militarism, campaign for dis- armament, promote active nonviolence and produce resources to provide education for peace.
We are campaigning at a time when Britain is becoming ever more militarised. In the face of public opposition to wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the UK government has sought to champion the armed forces. In the last decade, UK has experienced the introduction of an annual “Armed Forces Day”, an increase in cadet forces for young people and a government policy of promoting a “military ethos” in schools. The armed forces prey on vulnerable young people. The UK is the only country in Europe to recruit 16-year-olds into the army. Recruitment campaigns target the poorest teenagers.
At the beginning of 2018, the UK armed forces launched a new recruitment campaign aimed at young women, claiming that this showed their commitment to gender equality. In reality, all these recruitment campaigns are about the continued failure to meet planned recruitment levels. The PPU draws attention to the reality that armies are inherently oppressive and cannot pro- mote equality. The PPU promotes positive alternatives, calling for the UK’s military expenditure (the seventh highest in the world) to be used instead to tackle root causes of insecurity and violence, such as poverty, inequality and climate change.
We work alongside other peace organisations, both religious and secular. Many PPU members are involved in campaigning at local level, and some take nonviolent direct action against war, militarism and the arms trade. The PPU began in 1934 when thousands of people pledged to refuse to participate in war. Many had been involved in earlier peace movements during World War One.
A major annual event in the UK is Remembrance Day on the Sunday closest to 11th November. It is used to whip up militaristic and nationalistic feeling. In contrast, the PPU calls for remembrance for all victims of all wars and for commemoration based on building peace. While the authorities encourage everyone to wear a red poppy at this time, the PPU produces white poppies as an alternative.
PPU members sign the peace pledge: “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.”