Gretchen Baldwin’s Washington Post article “Rwanda’s government now uses the annual genocide remembrance as a political tool” is both untrue and deeply disturbing. It is a stark example of how, throughout the last two decades, foreign academics and journalists have gaslighted Rwanda’s collective experience of trauma and invalidated our process of recovery. We are tired, Ms Baldwin, of those who espouse atrocities in the name of supposed expertise, tired of living and re-living our trauma in the service of your research and articles, only to have our experiences negated. Learning about the genocide and having lived through it, are two very different things. I met Ms. Baldwin in 2017. She had been to Rwanda for several days at a time over a few years, perhaps doing research. Her expertise on Rwanda and the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi is questionable, and reveals her ignorance of Rwanda’s history and cultural background and attempts to deny that what took place here qualifies as a genocide. In reality, it is Ms. Baldwin and not the government of Rwanda, who clings to the notion that Rwandans cannot both remember those who were lost in the genocide, and be united. Being Rwandan matters more than being Hutu, Tutsi, or Twa, and since 1994 we have lived by that code. But that does not mean some divisions do not exist. In any given society there will be extremists who go against unity and reconciliation. For Rwandans, this comes from a long history of oppression, social classifications, and colonization. Colonial authorities, with assistance from the Catholic Church and extremists, prioritized ethnic divisions in order to keep Rwandans divided and under their control. In March of 1957, the Hutu Manifesto was created. Much like Hitler’s Mein Kampf, it emphasized that the struggles they were facing were due to the “diseased cockroaches” (Tutsi), and that their exclusion and elimination was the ultimate solution. The document was heavily supported by influential Catholic priests who disseminated it to extremists throughout Rwanda. In September of 1959, Joseph Habyarimana Gitera, an intellectual and Hutu extremist published what he called the Hutu 10 Commandments, an extension of the Hutu Manifesto, which used hateful language to further divisions. The commandments were a basis of mass mobilization for hatred against the Tutsi. What started as an ideology of hate resulted in mass violence and targeting of an isolated group of Rwandans, violating their rights and lives since 1959. This continued during the first republic (1962-1973) and the second Republic (1973-1994). Both Presidents, Grégoire Kayibanda and Juvenal Habyarimana, enacted policies that discriminated against Tutsi in the workforce and schools. If we have learned anything from our collective experience as a nation, it is that Genocide, with the right intervention, is almost always preventable. Unfortunately for Rwanda, there was no intervention and no mechanisms for prevention, and thus over a million Tutsi were swiftly and brutally exterminated in 1994. The atrocity has since been internationally recognized and named the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, with the UN resolution designation April 7th as the official International Day of Remembrance and Reflection – a resolution all countries and people should respect. Kwibuka represents a continual process of reflection and growth – where Rwandans come together, learn from our past mistakes, examine the ways in which division led to such tragedy, and work towards a better future. As we commemorate, Rwanda is still healing and growing. Contrary to what Ms. Baldwin argues, semantic choice is essential to this process. There is a reason why it is called the “1994 Genocide against the Tutsi”. There is a reason the Kinyarwanda language links Tutsi and victimization or Tutsi and survivors – it represents the intentional targeting of a specific group of Rwandans, validates the truth of what took place in 1994, and diminishes the possibility of misinterpretation by extremists and deniers. Rwanda recognizes that many others, including Twa and Hutu, were killed during the genocide along with their Tutsi brothers and sisters. But the reality is that all those who were killed were targeted either because they were Tutsi, or because they were “Tutsi sympathizers”. The direct intent of the genocide was to completely and unequivocally exterminate the Tutsi population. We use our commemoration events, our language, and our collective identity as Abanyarwanda to dismantle a historical system of oppression. And by doing so we come together as Rwandans to make sure that such violence never again occurs. Many factors contribute to increased violence against survivors around the time of Kwibuka. Key among them is articles such as those by Ms. Baldwin, which misconstrue the meaning of Kwibuka. These articles get amplified by social media and circulate among extremist groups, who use the content to validate illegitimate notions that those who attend Kwibuka do not care about unity, which in turn gives exacerbates violent intentions against the local Rwandan population. Rwanda has chosen a restorative, rather than retributive, approach to justice. The Gacaca courts, based on our traditional methods of justice prior to colonization, were used as a method for communities to work together and seek reconciliation. Confessions were always encouraged, not forced. And there have always been incentives for confession, just like in majority of justice systems around the world. But ultimately it is the defendant’s choice. In reality, this means that the majority of inmates voluntarily confess so as to reduce their time in prison, but also to participate in the process of reconciliation. Ms Baldwin’s article invalidates the voices of victims and survivors of the genocide. They have a right to mourn and work with fellow Rwandans for a more peaceful future. In doing so, they contribute to the meaning of Kwibuka, which is remembrance, unity and renewal. The author is the Director-General in charge of research and documentation at the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG).