This is the VOA Special English Development Report.
Alison Des Forges was an
American-born human rights expert and historian. She was one of fifty people
killed in a plane crash on February twelfth near her hometown of Buffalo, New
York. She was sixty-six years old.
almost twenty years, until her death, Alison Des Forges was senior adviser to
the Africa division of Human Rights Watch. In nineteen ninety-four, she did her
best to warn the world that Rwanda was sliding into genocide.
She was in the United States when the
killing began. But she was able to persuade diplomats to move some people out
of the most threatened area.
the next four years documenting the events, and the world's failure to
intervene. She wrote a book, published in nineteen ninety-nine, called
"Leave None to Tell the Story: Genocide in Rwanda."
Members of the ethnic Hutu majority killed
Tutsis and moderate Hutus. By some estimates, around eight hundred thousand people
were killed; Alison Des Forges felt more sure saying at least half a million. She
talked with people on both sides: those who organized the killings and those
who were targets.
had a doctorate in history which she received from Yale in nineteen
seventy-two. She wrote her dissertation paper on Rwanda. Almost thirty years
later, she received a MacArthur Fellowship for her work on the genocide that
took place there.
It began in April of nineteen ninety-four after a plane
carrying the presidents of Rwanda and Burundi, both Hutus, was shot down. The
killings ended three months later after Tutsi rebels fighting a civil war
defeated the Hutu government.
Des Forges demanded justice for the genocide victims. She appeared repeatedly
as an expert witness at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. But she
also called attention to thousands of killings by the rebels in reaction to the
became unpopular with the former rebels who now lead the government. Late last
year, she was banned from the country she loved after Human Rights Watch
criticized Rwanda's legal system.
recently, she worked on a report about killings in eastern Democratic Republic
Des Forges often worked with members of the International Crisis Group. The
group which works to prevent conflicts remembers her as someone who always
spoke for the victims.
And that's the VOA Special
English Development Report, written by Jerilyn Watson. I'm Steve Ember.