Alison L. Des Forges, a historian who documented the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and was an authority on human rights abuses in Central Africa, was a passenger on Continental Airlines Flight 3407 when it crashed near Buffalo on Feb. 12, 2009, killing all 49 people on board. She was 66.
The MacArthur Foundation recognized Dr. Des Forges’s work with a $375,000 “genius” grant in 1999. Her book “Leave None to Tell the Story: Genocide in Rwanda,” published that year, was considered one of the most authoritative accounts of the genocide.
Before the genocide, Dr. des Forges was part of a group convened by Human Rights Watch and other organizations that examined rights abuses, including killings and attacks and kidnappings of civilians, in Rwanda from 1990 to 1993.
Alison B. Liebhafsky was born in August 1942. She graduated from Radcliffe College in 1964, and received a master’s degree in 1966 and a doctorate in 1972, both in history, from Yale. Her master’s thesis focused on the impact of European colonization on Rwanda’s social system, and her doctoral dissertation was about Yuhi Musinga, the mwami, or ruler, of Rwanda from 1896 to 1931, during which Rwanda became a colony of Belgium. She was fluent in French. — Sewell Chan, Feb. 13, 2009
You can read her book online here
Dr. des Forges also served as an expert witness for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda
Interview with Alison des Forges in 2004 at PBS
Alison des Forges tribute page at Human Rights Watch