Demonstrators will gather outside the Science Museum on Monday (July 11) in protest of the sale of arms and weapons to militaries around the world ahead of the Farnborough International Airshow.
The biennial event takes place next week in at Farnborough Airport in Hampshire and organisers are hosting a welcome reception at ‘an iconic and exclusive London venue’ believed to the Science Museum on South Kensington.
A demonstration has been arranged by The Campaign Against Arms Trade and will take place outside the museum on Exhibition Road from 6pm.
On the event’s Facebook page, the group writes: “Farnborough will welcome military buyers from Saudi Arabia and other murderous regimes to the UK to shop for more weapons – weapons from companies such as BAE whose aircraft are currently bombing Yemen, and Israel’s largest arms dealer Elbit Systems whose drones are used from Gaza to Mexico.”
CAAT’s Andrew Smith said: “By agreeing to host Farnborough, the museum is supporting the arms trade by giving practical support and a veneer of legitimacy to human rights abusers and an industry that profits from war and repression.”
A petition calling on the museum to cancel the event has also received 4,200 signatures.
Ian Blatchford, Director of the Science Museum Group, defended the decision to host the welcome party, saying financial restraints played a part in accepting the corporate booking. He said: “Our response to this fiscal challenge has involved a combination of reducing our running costs and increasing the income we generate.
"Alongside philanthropic support from individuals and companies we continue to expand the range and scope of our commercial activities, including offering spaces for hire for corporate events outside the hours when the museum is open to the public.
“Among the many corporate events taking place at the museum this year is the welcome reception for Farnborough International Airshow... We treated this event as we would a booking from any other legitimate organisation.
“The revenue generated by bookings such as this plays an important role in the funding mix that enables us to remain free to millions of visitors, run the biggest educational programme of its kind, and allows us to curate world-class exhibitions.”
Farnborough Airshow runs from July 11-17. The first part of the week is used for international trade and the business, before the public are let in for exhibitions and aircraft displays on July 16-17.
The event website states 81 military delegations from 50 countries and 56 civil delegations from 23 countries attended the last show in 2014, which saw $204 billion orders and commitments placed.
High-ranking politicians from around the world are expected to attend, as will David Cameron .