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February 14, 2009

Alison Des Forges - An Uncommon Advocate
Posted by David Shorr

Among the victims of the Flight 3407 crash was Alison Des Forges, longtime senior adviser to Human Rights Watch's Africa program. All I can say is that she was one of the most impressive advocates I have ever seen. For the several years in the 1990s I focused on the crises and conflicts of Central Africa's Great Lakes region, on which Alison was a leading authority. And amidst all the cross-pressures at work even in capitals thousands of miles from the region, she was a rock. If an army or a militia, a government or a liberation movement was abusing ordinary people, she called it as she saw it -- calm and clear about her message and its effect on the hearer. Even someone who had Alison as a slight associate for a relatively brief time couldn't help being indellibly impressed with her eloquence and unpretentious moral force.


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Thanks, David - I was just checking the site with the same thought in mind. It seems terribly cruel to lose someone who survived three decades of truth-telling in Central Africa this way. As Melissa Crow, whom she recruited to work on the Rwanda tribunal, said, may she be an inspiration to us all.

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I always love and appreciate Des Forges.She was senior advisor for the Africa division at Human Rights Watch.

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