On 26/27th September 2014, Mexican students from the "Raúl Isidro Burgos" Teacher Training School in Ayotzinapa were attacked by the police in Iguala, Guerrero. 6 people, 3 of them students, were murdered and 43 students were forcibly disappeared. This tragic event brought to a head the issue of forced disappearance in Mexico (28,000+ people since 2007) and sparked a year of protest, international speaker tours with the parents, and an international movement to seek justice for the 43 missing students and the thousands of other people who are counted as “the disappeared”.

Many years before, Jan travelled extensively in the state of Guerrero to meet local artisans and musicians and document and record their work and the indigenous traditions and customs of the rural villages and towns where they worked. Since that time Jan’s work has focused on the lives of people in poor communities and she has worked with grassroots activists in Latin America and Africa to make a number of documentary films highlighting environmental and social issues.

Guerrero is one of Mexico's poorest and most violent states, and in September 2014 Jan was devastated to hear of the attack on the students, who all came from the poorest of backgrounds, and were training to be the teachers of the future, working in the same rural indigenous villages and towns that Jan had visited two decades before.

In October 2014 Jan embarked on a series of portraits of each of the 43 students who had been "disappeared". Her aim was to emphasise the human face of the number 43 and to raise awareness, wherever she could, about the appallingly high number of disappeared people in Mexico. A year later Jan had completed all 43 portraits, as well as an additional 3 pieces for the three students who were murdered. Her work is a labour of love, and pays tribute to the students and their parents.

Christian Rodriguez Giovanni Galindes Guerrero Bernardo Flores Alcaraz

During the past two years Jan’s portraits have been used by various solidarity organisations in Mexico, Europe and the USA, and Jan has collaborated with social justice activist Eréndira Sandoval Carrillo in Mexico City, who is in regular contact with the parents of the missing students and who has collected and verified the personal and family details that are the distinguishing feature of Jan’s portraits. Eréndira has arranged for banners with the portraits to be printed for the parents, and for the families each to receive a print of their missing sons. This was done on 26th of September 2015 to mark the first anniversary of the disappearances.

All the images can be viewed online here and there is also a short film, ¿Dónde Están? (Where are they?), in which Jan has collaborated with Ro Casares and Colectivo Mambotango (Mexico). Ro's song, Compañero, accompanies the images. This song was chosen by the students' families for a solidarity album called "De Vuelta a Casa”. The film was screened at Document International Human Rights Film Festival in Glasgow. The portraits have now been handed over to the parents of the students, thanks to Eréndira Sandoval Carrillo who has been liaising with he parents's on Jan's behalf, and with the support of Plantón por 43 who funded the printing. Jan's portraits opened an interdisciplinary solidarity event, Reclamo por la vedad y la justicia in Mexico, in the Kirchner Cultural Centre in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and were shown at the Tribute to the Disappeared exhibition at the Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz Memorial Centre in New York. Her video has been screened in Mexico, in Zacatecas and Poza Rica, Eugene (Oregon) and in Paris. Singer, Lila Downs, projected Jan's images at a concert in the National Auditoriunm in Mexico City. The portraits form an integral part of activist Lola Martínez's daily roll call for the students, at 3pm (Mexican time) on Twitter. Follow Lola @LolaReinadelSur. Most importantly the work is now in the hands of the students' parents and is displayed in the Normal School in Ayotzinapa.The portraits are now also used by filmmaker and journalist, Epigmenio Ibarra, as part of his daily 10 pm roll call on Twitter... to follow Epigmenio @epigmenioibarra

¿Dónde están? screened at Workers Unite! Film Festival in New York, May 2016. It was screened alongside Cartel Land and Jorge Tizapa, one of the fathers of the disappeared students from Ayotzinapa, was present for the Q&A.

Jan continues to make Ayotzinapa related portraits. All the work will be exhibited at the Scottish Paliament in March 2017 and at the University of Glasgow in April 2017. If you would like to orgainise an exhibtion of the work or a screening please contact Jan.

Jan would like to thank Paul Barham, "Ere" Alma Eréndira Sandoval Carrillo, Lola Martínez, Ro Casares & Colectivo Mambotango, Billy Briggs, Jánea Estrada, Perla Flores, Gerardo Moncada, Andrea Arroyo, Nerea Bello and Plantón Nacional por 43.

Visit the Parents of Ayotzinapa Facebook page. Follow them on Twitter @PadresdeAyotzi

¿Dónde Están? (Where are they?) Jan Nimmo © from Jan Nimmo on Vimeo.

Article by Billy Briggs for the Daily Record/Sunday Mail

Ayotzinapa, la flama que no cesa: Article by Gerardo Moncada for Otro Angúlo

Jan's solidarity work for Ayotzinapa features in La Gualdra, La Jornada Zacatecas' cultural supplement.

To arrange solidarity screenings and exhibitions contact Jan

Feature on The Ferret website: A Tribute to Mexico's' Disappeared Amidst Demands for the Truth

Versión en español.

¿Dónde Están? Jan Nimmo © from Jan Nimmo on Vimeo.


Parents JhosivaniChristian familyMarisaJohsivani smallJan Ayotzi

L-R Doña Margarita, mother of Miguel Ángel Mendoza Zacarías, Mayra y Mari, aunt and sister of Christian, Marrisa, widow of Julio Cesar Mondragón, Margarito and Martina parents of Jhosivani (Photos: Eréndia Sandoval Carillo) Jan Nimmo (Photo: Sue Reid Sexton).