The Edinburgh International Science Festival has been accused of accepting “blood money” from a £3 billion arms company that sells weapons and security technologies to undemocratic and repressive regimes around the globe.
The festival, which opens in two weeks time, has the British and Italian defence giant, Selex ES, as one of its “major funding partners”. The company helps fund visits to a quarter of Scotland’s primary schools every year and sponsors a “rampaging chariots race” for robots, expected to attract 6,000 children at this year’s festival.
Selex ES also sells weapons and missile electronics to the United Arab Emirates, weapons management systems to Malaysia and Thailand, unmanned surveillance drones to Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Pakistan, and radar for use in Israeli drones. With a base in Edinburgh, it specialises in high technology electronics.
One of its predecessor companies, Selex SI, was reported in 2009 to have agreed a £250 million deal for a border security system with the then dictator of Libya, Colonel Gadaffi. Selex ES, of which Selex SI is now part, is owned the major Italian firm, Finmeccanica, the world’s eighth largest arms company.
Scientists, politicians and campaigners against the arms industry say that it is wrong for a festival aimed at children to be backed by a company whose products “cause death and destruction around the world.” A petition has been launched and ‘disarm the science festival’ protests are being planned.