“It is to the Queensland government’s shame that they allowed these companies to gather here, let alone sponsoring the event. But the people of Brisbane have shown we will not allow this dirty business to be done here without intervening – making the process difficult and reminding everyone of the real price of these weapons. All the news about Land Forces this week was about protests, so I think we have succeeded in disrupting the business as usual for these corporations that means death and misery for the rest of us. This week has proved that ordinary people can stand in the way of the multi-billion dollar war machine, and if Land Forces tries to come back to Brisbane we will disrupt it again.” – Margaret Pestorious, Wage Peace
Anti-militarism activists have claimed their festival of resistance to be a success after a week of disrupting the Land Forces Defence Expo in Brisbane.
Disrupt Land Forces is a coalition organised in response to 300 companies gathering at the Brisbane Convention Centre to sell weapons and military equipment. After a week of headlines about protest activity, the group are claiming the event to be a success.
Was Disrupt Land Forces a success?
On the evening of 2 June, arms dealers inside the Brisbane Convention Centre clapped and cheered Queensland police as they arrested peace activists trying to stop more arms deals between Australia and Saudi Arabia.
The tactic of entering the convention centre is a bit like Bob Brown going to Central Queensland during the last federal election, like going right into the heart of the beast. Was it a play to the media? How is mainstream media gonna help stop the arms dealers when their papers, magazines and websites are full of adverts touting the military and the the big arms dealers?
To this day, a question mark hangs over Bob Brown’s anti-Adani campaign decision to go to the home of coal in central Queensland.
Now Land Forces mob going into the convention centre repeat the same strategy. Why?
It may have been better to concentrate on a blockade from outside. But given the generally small number of participants and the level of organisation that was always going to be a difficult task.
This was conceded by the organisers in their aim “to disrupt” rather than “to stop” the arms convention.
Outside a gala event for arms dealers at the Brisbane Convention Centre, peace activist and Friend of the Earth, Robin Taubenfeld, made a speech. A sombre march of death accompanied by the Riff Raff band had started at Jagera Hall and marched down past the Convention Centre to SouthBank. This is what Robin had to say outside the Convention Centre:
Aerospace is hosting social drinks inside the Brisbane convention center to network the machines of death and killing. And shortly in the ballroom of this place there will be a gala dinner. … Also a networking event … and we don’t speak of war as a networking event. Some of the world’s largest and most lethal weapons manufacturers and arms contractors are gathered here. This is not about an event. This is about making Australia a top 10 weapons exporter. The federal government support and the Queensland Government hosts this event … like its a khaki state it’s war, a social occasion, and networking events.
However we’re here to say the truth about what these events are. We are many people mourning today, we’ve come on this somber occasion to say, “This is no place for celebration”. This is not the direction that we want to see in our society, our country, our world. And look at this, where are we? We’re at South Bank your family friendly destination. And inside here, what are we hosting? killing machines, because the companies here are not just involved in tanks and small armaments.
The companies here are supporting the nuclear arms race. A nuclear weapons proliferation race and the sort of the militarization, which is an ongoing colonisation. (Shame). The first invasion. The first murderous lethal incursion. And this event and these events that are carrying on here today, tomorrow and yesterday, and especially, I’d say social networking gala event are abhorent … a continuation of the colonization, and the militarization of the place. And we mourn that.Speech by Robin Taubenfeld (Friends of the Earth) outside Brisbane Convention Centre
However despite its comparatively small size, ramshackle organisation of throwing disparate groups together in protest, and absence of the unions, Disrupt Land Forces still achieved much of their object. Arms Dealers will be reluctant to come to Brisbane again soon.
Congratulations to the organisers who put in all the hard work and to those people who participated.
Photos by Lachlan Hurse
3 June 2021
Disrupt Land Forces Media contact:
Margaret Pestorius 0403 214 422
Andy Paine 0413 205 154
Photos and videos available at: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1_s7Qfv_er682AMHsG8mEX0iGOoOxQE_X?usp=sharing
made on stolen land