A major arms fair due to begin on Remembrance Day in Adelaide, Australia, has been cancelled because of high levels of protest. In the UK, the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) has welcomed the news as further evidence that opposition to the arms trade is growing internationally .
The arms fair was due to take place from 11th-13th November under the name Asia-Pacific Defence and Security Exhibition (APDSE). The Acting Premier of South Australia, Kevin Foley, yesterday announced its cancellation due to "the cost of security, the possible threats of violence" despite the fact that the group organising the campaign against the fair, OzPeace, is committed to nonviolence.
CAAT spokesperson Symon Hill said: "It is beyond satire for the organisers of an arms fair to accuse protestors of promoting violence. Our congratulations go to OzPeace and all the nonviolent campaigners who have worked so hard to bring an end to this arms fair. I am pleased that the Australian public are making known their opposition to the arms trade. This development parallels a sharp rise in British public opposition to arms dealing in recent years."
The news comes after several setbacks for arms companies due to public opposition in the UK. In April, the UK government closed the Defence Export Services Organisation (DESO) - which promoted arms fairs and private arms companies - replacing with a weaker unit within UK Trade and Investment. In May, the British-Dutch company Reed Elsevier responded to campaigning by selling its arms fairs. CAAT and The Corner House (an anti-corruption NGO) attracted widespread support for a legal challenge over the suspension of a corruption investigation into arms deals between BAE Systems and Saudi Arabia.