Human Rights Activist Alison Des Forges Dies in Buffalo Plane Crash

Abby Zimet

Historian Alison Des Forges, 66, a prominent human rights advocate who documented genocide in Rwanda, was one of 50 people killed in Thursday's Continental Airlines crash near Buffalo. Kenneth Roth, president of Human Rights Watch, said Des Forges, "epitomized the human rights activist - principled, dispassionate, committed to the truth and to using that truth to protect ordinary people."

For her award-winning book, "Leave None To Tell the Story, Des Forges spent four years interviewing victims and organizers of the 1994 genocide that killed some 800,000 people in 100 days. Des Forges argued that the genocide was not a spontaneous eruption of ancient tribal hatreds but a carefully orchestrated effort by the government that seized power in Rwanda in 1994.

Des Forges was also an authority on human rights violations in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and had testified as an expert witness at many genocide trials. She worked as a senior adviser to Human Rights Watch's Africa division.
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