A light went out in the human rights movement last night with the crash of Flight 3407 near Buffalo, NY. I barely knew Alison Des Forges, but I share the collective grief of many of my colleagues in the human rights scholarly community and the International Association of Genocide Scholars, and friends at Human Rights Watch and in the wider movement.
Alison was known for her pathbreaking work chronicling the Rwandan genocide, and was a tireless advocate for human rights around the globe through her work at Human Rights Watch. Her interview by Frontline on the 10th anniversary of the genocide is worth revisiting.
I am sitting at Union Station as I write this preparing to take the train to the International Studies Association Meeting in New York, so I have no time to do justice to this news. Instead, I respectfully refer you to a few heartfelt obituaries that have popped up in the last few hours since word went out, by people who knew her better than I did: here and here.
Meanwhile, I shall be holding her family, and the families of all those who perished with her, in the light.