Activists face severe charges over Naval Expo anti-war protest

November 14, 2023
Protesting weapons' dealers and manufacturers. Photo: Peter Boyle

BREAKING: Four activists had variations to their bail conditions accepted by a court on November 14. The most draconian condition of being forced to leave NSW was dropped.

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Nine activists protesting a weapons expo have been charged and their bail conditions include having to leave the state of New South Wales. They are not allowed to associate with each other, or plan any more protests.

Wage Peace — Disrupt War organised a series of actions outside 2023 Indo-Pacific Naval Expo over November 4–6, including chanting anti-war and anti-militarisation slogans at a social event on November 6.

The nine were charged in connection with non-violent acts of resistance — holding banners and chanting against war mongers at the Expo. The charges were mostly “unlawful assembly”. A protester told Green Left that one element of the unlawful assembly charge is “intent to use violence”.

“The action on Monday night was a non harmful act of resistance to the weapons trade, which is currently profiting from the siege on Gaza.”

They wanted their message to go directly to employees of the companies that arm the Israeli Defence Forces.

“We disrupted a group of arms dealers as they boarded their dinner cruise … This involved standing in their path as they attempted to board the Starship Sydney.

“Many of the arms dealers being prevented from boarding their cruise became aggressive toward us and can be seen on the live stream videos pushing, shoving and sometimes punching our people.

“Some of our people had to leave the protest space out of concern for their safety, including one person who was experiencing dizziness after being punched in the head.”

Before the passengers began boarding, some of the cruise organisers approached the people with megaphones and hit/ripped them out of their hands. "Our people did not retaliate, because the intention of the gathering was to take a principled stance against genocide and call for a ceasefire. We went to King Street Wharf to bring our message directly to the employees of the companies that arm the Israeli Defence Forces."

The activist said they “reject the accusation of ‘intent to harm”.

“In our resistance we impose only two rules on our allies and associates, the first of which is to do no physical harm to living beings.”

They described the NSW Police response to civil resistance as being “out of control” and a “waste of policing resources”.

The Naval Expo is a trade show for missiles, drones, militarised watercraft and surveillance systems.

Legal Observers NSW confirmed they are “deeply concerned by the biased and intimidatory policing of these gatherings and the charges that have followed”.

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