War marketed as family entertainment
Letter to The Independent (see all signatories below)
Towns and cities across the UK will today (27 June) be “celebrating” Armed Forces Day. Many councils hold these events as signatories to the Armed Forces Community Covenant; almost every local authority has pledged support to the armed forces in perpetuity, and hundreds of businesses, charities and schools have signed the Armed Forces Corporate Covenant.
Many of today’s events are packaged as “family fun”, with military vehicles and weaponry to entice young people, and cadet and armed forces careers marketing to recruit them. War is not family entertainment.
The school assembly packs on offer from the Ministry of Defence display a breath-taking economy with the truth about the purpose and consequences of military action.
Rather than institutionalising public support for the armed forces we should stop selling war to children through sanitised celebration of the military and the promotion of “military ethos” in schools. It is unacceptable for the UK to be the only country in the EU to still recruit 16-year-olds into the armed forces, defying the growing international consensus against child recruitment.
As one of the thousands of signatories of our petition to change the law said: “Children should be protected from conflict, not incorporated in it.”
Pat Gaffney, Pax Christi UK
Emma Sangster, ForcesWatch
Ben Griffin, Veterans for Peace UK
Bruce Kent, Abolition of War
Matt Jeziorski, Peace Education Network
Claire Poyner, Network for Peace
Philip Austin, Northern Friends Peace Board
Brian Larkin, Edinburgh Peace & Justice Centre
See more: military in schools/colleges, military in society, recruitment, Armed Forces Day