Protesters fight to “disarm” Science Festival

Campaigners want to "disarm" Edinburgh International Science Festival, which accepts funding from arms company Selex ES

Campaigners want to "disarm" Edinburgh International Science Festival, which accepts funding from arms company Selex ES

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A CAMPAIGN has been launched to “disarm” the Edinburgh International Science Festival following criticism of the funding it receives from arms company Selex ES.

Scientists, politicians and campaigners against the arms trade say it is wrong for a festival aimed at children to be financially supported by a company accused of selling weapons to repressive regimes.

Selex ES, which has a base in Edinburgh, is one of the major funding partners of the Science Festival, which opens on April 5.

The firm helps to fund festival visits to a quarter of Scotland’s primary schools each year and sponsors “rampaging chariots race” for robots.

Defence giant Selex ES sells weapons and 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.

Green Lothians MSP Alison Johnstone said the festival was putting its reputation at risk by accepting the firm’s funding.

She added: “The projection of military aggression in our society must be tackled in every possible way and I would strongly urge the festival to play its part and rule out accepting such donations in future.”

The Science Festival confirmed it received £18,000 a year from Selex ES.

Dr Simon Gage, the festival’s director, said: “In an unstable world, defence companies are regrettably a necessary and legitimate part of life.”