War! What is it good for? It’s good for business. North Sea Bubble – Billy Bragg
It may surprise some people to learn that the Brisbane Exhibition Centre, normally the venue for bridal expos and trucking displays, will this year play host to the Land Forces Expo, an arms fair where the business of war will be very much on display.
The Land Forces website claims the expo is ‘…an international industry event to showcase equipment, technology and services for the armies of Australia and the Indo-Asia-Pacific’.
For sale and on display will be tanks and armoured vehicles; ammunition; guns; attack helicopters; weaponised land-based robots; missiles; computer/digitised interfaces for sending rockets and ammunition; camera laser systems for cannons and drones to ‘enhance lethality’ and weaponised flying drones.
Weapons to kill men, women and children
These weapons will kill men, women and children like yourself, but this will be euphemistically called ‘collateral damage’. Right now the Australian Government is paying weapons companies billions for weapons to use against ‘us’. Make no mistake this expo is where deals are done and partnerships formed to secure more of these dollars to export terror to Yemen, Myanmar, Chile, West Papua and the Philippines. As usual, arms dealers will be #makingakilling.
Land Forces 2021 will be held at the Brisbane Exhibition Centre. Its primary goals are to provide an effective platform for the exchange of ideas and networking on key land forces issues (including war games) and to take the Australian (weapons) industry to the world by bringing the world to Australia. It is an arms trade fair showcasing products of war, supposedly in the name of national security. In reality, it is a huge multimillion-dollar commercial venture where the manufacturing and associated companies are the real winners and ‘doing business is easy’.
There will be a couple of killing conferences alongside a massive killing expo. All the major weapons companies will be there, alongside Australian Defence Force representatives, plus defence ministers and trade delegations from over 70 nations.
These CEOs and ministers are normally inaccessible. Land Forces will bring them together in one place at one time, presenting us with a rare opportunity to speak truth to their power.
This event is the culmination of a major shift in Australian government policy in recent years. ‘In July 2017, the Australian government announced its ambition to become a “top 10” defence exporter by 2028, and has since been rolling out its Defence Export Strategy with the goal of building “a stronger, more sustainable and more globally competitive Australian defence industry”.’ (Save the Children Fund, 2019, p.3).
The Australian Defence Export Office (ADEO) is now situated within the Department of Defence, strengthening the influence of weapons dealers and US defence personnel in the corridors of power in Canberra.
The money has been flowing even more freely since the government included the defence industries as part of the COVID-19 recovery strategy, led by the Centre for Defence Industry Capability.
Australia currently pours a staggering $98.9m a day into our so-called defence forces and related agendas. War-making and weapons manufacturing and trading takes precedence over funding crucial social areas, such as public housing, health, employment and education initiatives.
Are we a safe country or a war zone?
It is important to be aware that whether we live in a ‘safe’ country or in a war zone, the weapons sold at Land Forces will ultimately point at us. Police forces around the world are becoming increasingly militarised, meaning that they use military grade weapons, military-style uniforms, vehicles and surveillance technology. Weapons are used to suppress civil society movements with disturbing regularity, from tear gas and water cannons through to machine guns and sniper rifles. Recently we have seen the police in Chile aiming rubber bullets at people’s eyes, blinding many. At least 25 West Papuan civilians were killed by the army and police in 2020, on suspicion of being ‘separatists’. Two of those killed were 12 years old.
The Amazon is a particularly dangerous place to be an environmental activist, as is the Phillipines. While Australia and the US are dangerous places to be black. There is no safety where there are heavily armed soldiers and police. Whoever and wherever we are, those weapons are meant for us.
But what can citizens do about this expo and about this killing trade? Why not stop / close / cancel it?
We don’t think we can stop it – this time. However we can put our bodies, our minds and creativity in the way – to ‘disrupt’ it, using NVDA strategies and tactics. We can disrupt in any way we can with zero harm to living beings using: sound, sight, smell; movement and music; nonviolent direct action; projection art; your ideas?
#disruptlandforces is a campaign coalition including anti-militarist, feminist, First Nations, refugee, climate action and other community groups who are concerned about the rise of, and financial and humanitarian cost of militarism in Australia. The official event dates – are 1–3 June, but the disruption will start on May 28! We are asking activists to travel to Brisbane/ Meanjin ahead of time, so that we can plan and prepare on the weekend before Land Forces begins. We will help with billeting and we can connect you with a group if you don’t already have one.
Collaborators and cooperation
We ask collaborators to agree to the following principles: 1. Respectful language and behaviour with each other 2. Actions are nonviolent = we do not harm other living beings.
Some of you may be aware that the protests have already begun. As we approach Land Forces 2021, some of us have begun to take protest action at weapons companies such as Rheinmetall, EOS, Thales, Boeing and NIOA. We encourage you to target an arms dealer with your group, in any way you can following our principles.
Our website, Instagram and Facebook page are available as spaces for you to publicise your group and your actions. You are welcome to use any of our ‘reasons to resist’, any of our images and the #disruptlandforces logo.
We invite all of you to come to Brisbane if you are able. If not, we hope that you become more informed about this crucial issue, and do what you can to speak about it, draw attention to it and share and amplify the message and publicise the event through social media and your own networks.
For more information visit: disruptlandforces.org.