Inspiring news for anti-arms-trade activists around the world: A major international arms fair – the Asia Pacific Defence & Security exhibition – has been cancelled due to protests planned against it. Organised by Alex Nicholl, the man behind the UK’s DSEi arms fair, APDS was due to be held in Adelaide in November but the event organisers and the South Australian government folded, citing “cost of security” and “possible threats of violence”.
Government leaders, who want South Australia to be a big player in the global arms trade, have been left seething. Speaking through the right-wing Murdoch press, acting Premier Kevin Foley smeared the peace campaigners as “feral, low-life people that want society to be in a state of near anarchy for their own perverse pleasure” and “dangerous to society”.
Responding to Foley’s tirade, OzPeace, one of the groups organising the protest said “The protest had a policy of non-violent direct action and the peace movement was doing everything within its power to ensure that the protests remained peaceful.” Looking for a bogeyman, the media has demonised Sydney-based anarchist collective Mutiny, describing them as “ultra-militant” and repeating the bogus claim that they were responsible for violence at past demonstrations.
Needless to say, accusing the protesters of “violence and destruction” betrays a breath-taking double standard. Had the arms fair gone ahead, corporations including small arms manufacturer Heckler & Koch and the notoriously corrupt BAE Systems would have been there marketing the machinery of war to repressive regimes including China, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Israel.
The axing of this arms fair should give succour to opponents of the arms trade everywhere. Yes, the military-industrial complex is mighty, but we can take it on, and we can win.