The Science Museum justified its plans to host a ‘welcome reception’ for arms dealers from Farnborough International by telling us that Farnborough International was a ‘legitimate organisation’.
So I went to Farnborough this week and saw what ‘legitimate’ looks like.
It was the most surreal and chilling day I have ever experienced. But for the arms dealers and military buyers attending, it was just business as usual.
I stood by the glossy stands of Israeli arms companies, promoting ‘battle-tested’ weaponry with slick videos of missile strikes and drone attacks, while outside, in the real world, the death toll in Gaza mounted.
I passed the displays for Rosoboronexport, advertising the weapons it has supplied to Assad in Syria, and watched it invite customers into its private rooms to discuss more deals.
And I came face-to-face with a member of Bahrain’s royal family, as he was ushered into BAE’s display area to browse its warplanes.
I thought of the Bahrainis I have met in London – shot, imprisoned, tortured and exiled by their government because they dared to call for democracy.
Later that evening, it was an honour to stand alongside these activists and tell the Science Museum that its support for this event is not OK.
Now we need your voice to send that message home.
We know our action works.
We’ve already got more than 2800 signatures on our petition – and the Museum has been inundated with comments on social media and by letter.
When the Bahraini delegation saw our protest it turned tail and left, and our action eventually forced the Museum to turn some arms dealers away from the event.
And we’ve just had some great news: we campaigned to stop the Natural History Museum hosting arms dealers two years ago and it worked!
The Museum confirmed this week that it had been asked to host this year’s welcome reception for Farnborough International – and that it had refused.
Please help us do the same for the Science Museum.
If you haven’t already, please sign the petition, then spread the word.
- On twitter? Why not share this tweet or write your own to @sciencemuseum
- Add a comment on the Museum’s Facebook page
- Find out if an arms company near you exhibited at Farnborough – and take action. Do get in touch if you want help with talking to your local media or planning a protest.
- Share this blog and our Storify of the campaign so far.
- See more from inside the arms fair on CAAT’s Flickr and on Buzzfeed.
Our action matters.
The arms dealers at Farnborough exist in a bubble, divorced from the human consequences of their work.
But they need public support to continue – and the prestige of using our public spaces is one of the most important ways they seek to normalise their business.
When we shut them out, as we have done at the National Gallery and now at the Natural History Museum, we are one step closer to shutting them down.