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Alison Des Forges, prominent human rights activist
Aug. 20, 1941 -- Feb. 12, 2009

A service will be held Sunday for a prominent human rights activist who died in the Continental Connection Flight 3407 crash.

Alison Des Forges, a world-renowed expert on genocide and other abuses in Rwanda, was coming back from London, where she participated in a public debate with a member of British Parliament.

The service will be at 3 p.m. Sunday in St. Joseph-University Catholic Church, 3275 Main St. near the University at Buffalo South Campus.

Ms. Des Forges, 66, was a Human Rights Watch senior adviser in its Africa division for nearly two decades.

After moving to Buffalo in 1973, she became a vocal advocate for children and parents in matters involving the Buffalo Public Schools. She helped found the Bennett Park Montessori School.

Helene Kramer, a former Buffalo School Board member who considered Ms. Des Forges her closest friend, said inquiries have been pouring in from people who want to pay their respects.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Human Rights Watch in memory of Ms. Des Forges. Donations can be made via the Internet by visiting

Contributions can also be sent to: Human Rights Watch, 350 Fifth Ave., 34th floor, New York, NY 10118-3299.

Tributes to Ms. Des Forges also may be posted on the Human Rights Watch Web site by following a link from the organization's home page.


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