Edinburgh Mural tells the story of Chagossian exile

Posted in Benjamin Zephaniah, Campaign, Cultural, Edinburgh on March 3rd, 2015 by Robert Bain – Be the first to comment

There’s over six thousand miles between Diego Garcia and Edinburgh. Thanks to the joint efforts of film-maker Gillian Morrison, artist Mike Greenlaw and his associate Greg Mitchell, however, one prime spot in the Scottish capital is spreading the word about the forced deportation, exile and long hard fight for return of the Chagossian people.

The exciting new art project is a powerfully simple depiction of almost half a century of injustice. Completed under the banner of Artists for Justice and Peace, the work is currently available to view at St John’s Church on Princes Street, bang in the centre of in Edinburgh. Pictures in this case paint many thousands of words so have a look below.


Gillian and Mike became acquainted with one another, and indeed the fight for the Chagossian justice, via the Edinburgh South ‘Yes Cafe,’ which in part acts as a social and political hub for pro-Scottish independence activists. The cafe has hosted screenings of the John Pilger film ‘Stealing a Nation’ and is planning further events to promote the Chagossian cause.

The artist Mike Greenlaw explained that St John’s had a long and proud tradition of political murals. Mike noted that “my work on the

Edinburgh South Yes Cafe, which has hosted events promoting the Chagossian campaign

Edinburgh South Yes Cafe, which has hosted events promoting the Chagossian campaign

Chagossian people’s struggle is the latest mural in a 32 year history of murals at St. John’s, which has encompassed issues such as apartheid, the conflict in Israel/Palestine, environmental Issues, world poverty and nuclear arms.”

“I hope that my work might help to raise some awareness of the plight of the people of the Chagos Islands,” he added explaining the motivation behind his choosing the Chagossian cause as the subject for his piece.

Gillian Morrison, as well as orchestrating the whole project, is currently making a film about the Chagossian people’s deportation, suffering in exile and fight to return. We look forward to seeing the final version and are hugely appreciative of Gillian’s interest in this often overlooked, appalling and ongoing human rights abuse.

Many thanks are due to Gillian who put a lot of effort into bringing this work into being, and of course to Mike for creating such a beautiful representation of the terrible injustice suffered by the Chagossian people.

Newly appointed UK Chagos Support Association Patron and celebrated poet Benjamin Zephaniah thanked those involved for their work and added that he hoped the art work would motivate people to support the return campaign.

“2015 is a massive opportunity to win a measure of justice for the Chagossian people. The Government have committed to making a decision on supporting return prior to the election, we need more people demanding our MPs support the Chagossians’ simple human right to go home. We are hugely grateful to Mike, Gillian and Greg for delivering this fantastic project and beautiful artwork, which spreads the word on the urgency of ending decades of oppression.”

The final scene of the mural, viewable above, calls on readers to take action, by writing to your MP and generally making your voice heard. We certainly echo this demand and ask everyone to take what action they can.