Remembrance Day to be marked by arms fair

November 11 is Remembrance Day, marked each year to commemorate those who have died in war.

The Asia Pacific Defence and Security Exhibition (APDSE) will be held on November 11-13, with weapons manufacturers and retailers from a number of countries participating.

Yet South Australia's Labor premier, Mike Rann, has agreed to this date being used to launch a weapons fair in Adelaide.

The Aidex exhibitions, held in Canberra in 1989 and 1991, were the biggest armaments fairs ever held in the southern hemisphere. Several thousand people participated in protests against the 1991 event, and a picket/blockade, endorsed by the ACT Trades and Labour Council, forced police to cut holes in the fences to let the arms dealers into the site under heavy police escort.

At least one protester was run over.

Arms fairs were subsequently banned in the ACT. Aidex 1993 was scheduled to be held in NSW, but then quietly cancelled after the threat of more protests resulted in many arms companies withdrawing. No arms fairs have been held in Australia since 1991.

Trent Hawkins, a Melbourne anti-war activist involved in the campaign against APDSE, told Green Left Weekly, "Workers, peace and social justice activists, students, environmentalists, religious and community organisations must come together to stop this war-fest. Public pressure has stopped major arms fairs in Australia for 15 years, but the APDSE is an attempt by Australia to force its way back into the global arms market.

"We are facing a climate emergency that threatens to destroy the planet. Peace is now a question of survival for humanity, not only because of the nuclear threat, but because military spending takes resources away from health, education and environmental repair. We must bring an end to war profiteering."

Planning for protests against the APDSE is already underway, with buses being organised to transport people to Adelaide from Perth, Alice Springs, Tasmania, Sydney and Melbourne. Details of the protest actions, to be held on November 8-13, are still being coordinated and ideas are welcome.

A "Climate Criminals" tour of Melbourne on September 19 will start at the ExxonMobil headquarters and finish at state parliament, with stops planned at Melbourne-based armaments companies.

For more information, visit http://www.apdsexhibition.org/welcome. For details of protest organising meetings in your city, see the Activist Calendar on page 23.