The Baltimore Sun


Scholar chronicled Rwanda's genocide

Alison Des Forges, a human rights activist who drew the world's attention to the killings of hundreds of thousands of innocent people in Rwanda in the 1990s and chronicled the massacre, died Feb. 12 in the crash of a Continental Airlines passenger plane in Clarence Center, N.Y., near Buffalo.

After April 6, 1994, when an airplane carrying Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana was shot down, members of the politically dominant Hutu group suddenly began to attack the Tutsi minority in an uncontrolled rampage of violence. Most Western governments initially responded with indifference as the savagery spread throughout Rwanda, resulting in the massacre of between 500,000 and 1 million people in three months. The United Nations officially declared the attacks an act of genocide. Ms. Des Forges sounded early warnings about the violence before Congress and repeatedly called for international intervention. She pleaded with the Clinton administration's State Department, to no avail, to block the signals of Rwandan radio stations fomenting the massacre by urging Hutus to kill the Tutsi "cockroaches."

Copyright © 2021, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad