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Remembering water justice activist Kimy Pernia Domico

Kimy Pernia Domico was an Indigenous Embera Katio water justice activist in Colombia who disappeared fourteen years ago this week.

In June 2001, the Council of Canadians issued a media release that, “expressed deep concern for the well being of Kimy Pernia Domico.” That statement noted, “On Friday, June 2 at 6:20 pm Mr. Pernia was forced on to a motorcycle at gunpoint by unidentified men, and driven out of town. Pernia has been invited as a guest of the Council of Canadians to speak at the international conference, ‘Water for People and Nature’ being held in Vancouver July 5-8th. Prior to the conference, he is scheduled to undertake a cross-Canada tour to talk about water and human rights.”

In July 2001, at our water conference now dedicated to Kimy, Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow said, “The disappearance of Kimy highlights the pressure on the developing world, on the poor and on First Nations to hand over their water resources for private benefit, no matter the cost. We are here in Canada with delegates from over 30 countries to push back, to protect the world’s water from the corporate forces that want to profit from it, and today we’re doing this in Kimy’s name.”

Kimy opposed the Urra hydroelectric dam on the Sinú River, a project that flooded crops and sacred sites in his people’s territory. He visited Canada on a number of occasions to testify about the devastation caused by this dam, which was partially financed by Canadian tax dollars through Export Development Canada. In 1999, he testified before a Canadian parliamentary Sub-Committee on Human Rights and International Development in Ottawa. In 2001, he was in Quebec City during the time of the Summit of the Americas to speak against the Urra dam and its effects on the Embera Katio peoples.

Sadly, in January 2007 paramilitary leader Salvatore Mancuso admitted to participating in the disappearance and killing of Kimy.

After Kimy was tortured and murdered, his body was dumped in the Sinú River.

His struggle for water justice and the right to free, prior and informed consent will not be forgotten.

Photo: Kimy Pernia Domico