Alison Des Forges GRD ’72, one of the world’s leading experts on the human rights violations in Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo, was among the passengers killed in the commuter plane crash outside Buffalo, N.Y., late Thursday. She was 66 and lived in Buffalo.
Her death was confirmed by Human Rights Watch, the New York-based organization for which she worked for nearly two decades as a senior adviser to its Africa division.
Born in Schenectady, N.Y., in 1942, Des Forges wrote her doctoral thesis about Rwanda and began working for Human Rights Watch in the 1980s. She spent four years interviewing organizers and victims of the Rwandan genocide and testified at 11 trials at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda as an expert witness.
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According to Human Rights Watch, Des Forges “dedicated her life and work to understanding the country, to exposing the serial abuses suffered by its people and helping to bring about change.”
“There was no one who knew more and did more to document the genocide and to help bring the perpetrators to justice,” Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.