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Protests mark Armed Forces Day in Scotland

Finnieston Crane occupied
Armed Forces Day, Stirling
Wool Against Weapons

Britain's national event for Armed Forces Day (Saturday 28 June) was held in Stirling this year, apparently with the intention of rallying opposition to the campaign for Scottish independence. The day was marked by protests against militarism in Glasgow, Stirling and Edinburgh.

In Glasgow, four anti-war activists climbed and occupied the Finnieston Crane to protest against the glorification of war on Armed Forces Day. They unfurled a banner that reads ‘Resist Militarism #WhiteFeather,’ to show dissent to the increasingly US-style culture of militarism growing in the UK and to celebrate those who refuse to participate in war.

The activists occupied the crane for several hours but were eventually arrested. They are expected to appear in Glasgow Sheriff Court on Monday.

Campaigner from various groups linked the the Scottish Peace Network (including Edinburgh Stop the War Coalition, Trident Ploughshare and others) held a demonstration outside the Smith Museum in Stirling.

In Edinburgh, Wool Against Weapons activists unrolled a giant hand-knitted scarf along the city's Royal Mile, in preparation for a 7-mile roll-out between Aldermaston and Burghfield, nuclear weapons production sites in Berkshire on August 9th 2014. Wool Against Weapons campaigns against the renewal of Trident nuclear weapons by the British Government, and in support of the Scottish Government's policy of having Trident removed from Scotland in the event of a Yes vote in the independence referendum

Veterans' Day - celebrated since 2006 - was renamed as Armed Forces Day in 2009 in an effort to raise the day's profile. Veterans' Day/Armed Forces Day was set up to try to repair the damage done to the armed forces' reputation by the disastrous war in Iraq, and to reverse the successful efforts of anti-war campaigners to discourage military recruitment.

This year it was used by the UK government to boost the case for vote against Scottish independence in the September referendum. Yet the Queen's regulations prohibit "all forms of political activity" in service establishments. The Sunday Herald has called for an end to the politicisation of the armed forces.

It appears that less than 2000 people attended the Armed Forces Day event in Stirling (MOD and some media sources have claimed a much larger figure). It was presented as day of family fun, with children - some of them of pre-school age - being encouraged to handle weapons.

On the same day, 20,000 people paid to attend a nearby re-enactment of the Battle of Bannockburn. Twice that number would have attended, had police not insisted on limiting numbers because of fears of overcrowding as a result of both events being held on the same day. Stirling Council had given permission for the Bannockburn event before they gave permission for the Armed Forces Day event, and have yet to explain why they agreed the second event.