British war veterans have thrown away their medals outside Downing Street in protest against the Government's decision to bomb Syria and to bust the “mythology” of heroism connected to the military.
Ex SAS soldier Ben Griffin, who led the Veterans for Peace protest on Tuesday, told The Independent that although difficult, discarding their medals was an important gesture to discourage future generations from aspiring to win war medals.
He had already binned his medal in the summer but joined the protest to discard an award of a disabled veteran who was unable to attend.
Mr Griffin, who won his medal for serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, Northern Ireland and Macedonia, said it was a “powerful” and “incredible experience,” adding: “These are things we once treasured, so it's a difficult thing to give away but we think it's really important that we do that – both in protest against this war but also because want to get rid of the mythology around these things.
“Lots of young kids are looking at these medals thinking 'oh wow, I'd want some of those' and we want to show 'look, this is what we think of them; we earned them and this is what we now think of them.”
Veterans for Peace is an organisation of ex-servicemen and women who have served in every war Britain has fought in since World War Two and among its missions is to "educate young people on the true nature of military service and war," while attempting to convince people that war is "not the answer to the problems of the 21st century".
Mr Griffin became opposed to British military intervention abroad after experiencing first-hand the situation in Iraq in 2005 and subsequently refused to serve.
The Special Forces veteran said Britain’s actions over the last 15 years had directly led to the formation of Isis, from its invasion in Iraq and intervention in Afghanistan and Libya.
"We've got to look at how Isis was caused. It was our attack in Iraq that led to the formation of Isis,” he said.
“Also, we've got to look at our allies - Saudi Arabia, who are fervent supporters of Isis and fund them; we’ve got to look at Turkey, who I've been led to believe are buying oil from Isis.
“So there are many things we can do - from looking at our relationship with Saudi and putting pressure on the Turks to stop buying the oil to reduce the effectiveness of Isis.
“But we've got to take a longer term view of this; every time we attack someone, every time we bomb somewhere and kill people, we create an enemy and Isis is the result of previous attacks so we've got to accept that and realise that bombing is not the answer; it's the cause.”
Mr Griffin was joined at the protest by fellow veterans Kirk Sollitt, Phil Mace and Dan Lenham outside Downing Street.