Hundreds participated in a multi-faceted protest outside the Land Forces weapons expo over October 4–6.
While Land Forces describes itself as “the region’s premier biennial International Land Defence Exposition”, a more accurate description would be “the Queensland government’s opportunity for corporate executives, politicians and military leaders to make money from killing poor people”.
The Queensland Labor government was the host sponsor, along with major weapons companies, including Nioa, Boeing and Northrop Grumman.
This year, as last, the profiteers were met by a festival of resistance against the war machine beginning with a sacred fire on September 30 where First Nations people and others affected by war spoke.
Two activists were arrested earlier that day for blockading the weapons’ bump in. They sat on equipment being carted into the convention centre.
Workshops and other activities, including an October 3 protest by “clowns, vikings and more”, took place on the weekend leading up to the weapons’ expo opening.
The convention centre’s main entrance was blocked by tall barriers on October 4 and protesters were at every entrance. Noise makers, colourful banners and signs and protesters greeted people walking in.
Greens councillor Jonathan Sriranganathan was arrested for standing his ground while police moved barriers around him. He told police he was standing on public land and they had no legal right to move him on. He was later released.
The Quakers organised a 24-hour vigil on the first day and Greens MPs David Shoebridge, Amy MacMahon and Max Chandler-Mather joined the rally on the first morning.
On the second day, protesters organised a tour to Brisbane-based weapons manufacturers. A well-attended “read the names” vigil heard the names read out of Palestine children killed by Israeli occupation forces in the last month.
Latin American activists highlighted the martyrs killed for defending human rights and the environment.
ABC, News Corp and other establishment media were allowed into the exhibition, but Michael West Media was not because the organisers considered its coverage of the arms dealers “aggressive”.