Contributed from Queensland
This week has seen the holding of an arms expo in the Brisbane Convention Centre called Land Forces. Land Forces organised the event and called it a three-day Industry and Defence Conference Program. It concerned building the weapons industry, technological innovation for future military applications, and preparing for a community crisis.
Land Forces is the creation of the AMDA Foundation, has a board headed by representatives of the armed forces, industry, and government, and works closely with the Department of Defence and organisations representing business interests.
Photo by Sara Marshall/News Corp Australia
News of the expo immediately drew opposition form around Australia. One group, Disrupt Land Forces, organised activities to disrupt the event and raise greater public awareness. The group described the expo as a killing conference, and their action took the form of a Festival of Resistance, kicking off Friday 28 May and continuing through the Land Forces event from 1-3 June. It involved a concert, an ongoing presence at the TAFE college across the road from the Convention Centre, rallies, and disruptive activities.
Targets have been companies profiting from war, like Thales, Rheinmetall, Boeing, EOS, Elbit, Lockheed Martin, BAE. Some 300 companies were represented in Brisbane. Some of them have been involved in supplying for attacks of civilians in places like West Papua, Yemen, the recent killings in Palestine, and Latin America.
Opponents climb onto a tank at the exhibition
Opponents of Land Forces argue that building an arms industry encourages war, something that is particularly dangerous in the current climate. They say that Australia should not be involved in this. There is also concern over the environmental impact.
There is also concern about the shift in the focus of the military and reflected in the expo, over preparations to deal with what is broadly called a community crisis. This is for domestic application and threatens that these weapons may one day be turned on Australians. This would not be taking place unless it is designed to deal with a population not willing to do as it is told.
One group smeared fake blood on the steps of the Convention Centre. Another projected photos of the “66 people killed in Palestine in the recent attacks” onto the building. One group among those who entered the exhibition area climbed onto a tanks and unfurled a banner. One locked himself onto it with a bicycle lock.
There were arrests and five people were charged with a nuisance offense.
Some of the police officers outside caught misbehaving on video. This demands an investigation.
Today (3 June) has been called Climate Day, and the connection is that war damages the environment. A prayer for peace will be held at noon, and at 5 pm there will be a Dinner of Death Parade.