Nairobi/Brussels The International Crisis Group is deeply saddened by the loss of Alison Des Forges, who died in a plane crash on 12 February.
A senior adviser to Human Rights Watch, Alison was one of the world’s leading experts on Rwanda, a respected and inspiring human rights activist, and a dear friend to many within our organisation. Her death is a blow to all those who have promoted peace, justice and respect for human rights in Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and elsewhere in Central Africa and beyond.
Alison’s friends and colleagues within Crisis Group will long remember the incredibly rich conversations with her on three continents about how best to achieve justice in the Great Lakes, how to balance peace and justice in Congo and Burundi, and how to promote reconciliation inside Rwanda. We sat together on the benches at the Belgian tribunals during the trials of the Rwandan nuns and at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda when she was preparing her testimonies.
Alison’s aura and authority did not just come from her immense expertise, intellectual rigour and formidable capacity to make intelligible the most complex situations. She was, most of all, a woman of courage, inner strength and principle, never betraying the trust of those who provided evidence by resorting to undue generalisations or imprecise recollection of facts and events. She sought the truth, even when it was inconvenient or dangerous, whether it applied to the pursuit of justice and accountability for the Rwanda genocide or for the actions of the Rwandan Patriotic Front. In so doing, she helped demystify the propaganda of a repressive regime.
We will miss Alison, the lonely voice of the Great Lakes region, always speaking for the victims regardless of the perpetrator. Her work, dedication and professional integrity will continue to inspire all those who share the same ideals.
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