Sunday, February 15, 2009

Alison Des Forges, Human Rights advocate, dies on a plane crash

This is a very sad day for both Rwanda and the world over. This past Thursday, Alison Des Forges, one of the world's leading experts on the Rwandan genocide was killed in a plane crash near Buffalo, New York among 50 other passengers. Ms. Des Forges had spent more than twenty years studying the history and culture of Central Africa and was a Senior Advisor for Human Rights Watch, which monitors human rights abuses worldwide. She was one of the few people to sound the alarm on Rwanda during the genocide in 1994 and pleaded with the State Department to block the radio signals, which was used by the Hutu extremist to urge listeners to kill the Tutsis. But her pleas fell on deaf ears. After the genocide, she returned to Rwanda and investigated what had happened which resulted in her book ''Leave None to Tell the Story'' outline the events during the genocide and how and why it happened. She wrote:

"This genocide resulted from the deliberate choice of a modern elite to foster hatred and fear to keep itself in power."

She was a key expert witness in several tribunals in Africa, Europe, and, Canada and has helped convit many top officials responsible in one of the bloodest mass killing in recent times. Ms. Des Forges devoted her life fighting for justice for those whom were silenced. But of course despite the tragedy, our work for a better and just world continues.

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