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Does the image show Debretsion G/Michael being taken into custody?

Avatar: Rehobot Ayalew
Rehobot AyalewMay 12, 2021
HAQCHECKCity: Addis AbabaFact checking
Does the image show Debretsion G/Michael being taken into custody?

A Facebook post appeared on May 11, 2021, by a Facebook page named Tigray Today ❷❹ - a page which was created on October 24, 2020, by the name Gurage press 24. The page later on May 1, 2021, changed its name to Tigray today 24. It has more than 5,300 followers.- The Facebook post shows a man with a handcuff getting out of a helicopter, guarded by the military. The Amharic text written in the post reads “Breaking news… the TPLF’s chairman Debretsion G/Michael surrendered Kola Tembien after his guards were killed in a fierce battle…” after a few lines of text it adds “I wish I hear this news, so I can get overjoyed ”. As of the time, this article was written, the Facebook post was shared 160 times. HaqCheck has looked into the post and found the picture Altered and the whole post, Satirically Misleading. 

Since 4 November 2020, there has been armed fighting between the TPLF-led regional forces and Federal government-led forces in Tigray. The federal government has controlled the regional capital city, Mekelle, on 28 November 2020. It has also recently announced that it was rapidly capturing senior civil and military officers of the TPLF. Some of the senior civil and military leaders of the TPLF-led force have also been arrested. Some of them include influential members of the TPLF, Sebhat Nega, former President Abay Woldu, Deputy President of the Tigray Regional State Abraham Tekeste (Ph.D.), and others. On 14 January 2021, ENDF gave a statement saying three TPLF officials, Abay Tsehaye- TPLF political leader, Seyoum Mesfin- former foreign minister, and Asmelash Woldeselassie- a member of the executive committee of the TPLF, and other former military members were killed. There were also reports of social media appearances by Debretsion G/Michael.


However, a reverse image search of the images found in Microsoft Bing shows that the original picture was taken from a video that shows the former Chief Executive Officer of MetEC (now called Ethio Engineering Group) Brigadier General Kinfe Dagnew, being flown to Addis Ababa after his arrest on November 13, 2018. The Facebook post replaced the face in the original image with the image of Debretsion’s face.

The original picture

In addition, when looking into the content, the headline “Breaking News” and the actual content at the end of the text  “I wish I heard this news, so I can get overjoyed ” are not the same. Which makes the post, Satirical. 

The page also has a history of posting false information, with a similar nature. One of the former claims by the page was checked by other fact-checking outlets which can be found here.

Despite other TPLF leaders being captured and killed, there is still no public information about the conditions of the senior TPLF leader Debretsion G/Michael. HaqCheck has found the post Satirically Misleading. Also, it has confirmed that the picture does not show Debretsion being arrested therefore, rated it as ALTERED.

Fact Checked by: Rehobot Ayalew

The following article is part of HaqCheck, Addis Zeybe’s multilingual fact-checking running in five languages (Affan Oromo, Amharic, Somali, Tigrinya, and English)

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A PIECE BYRehobot Ayalew

Rehobot is an enthusiastic, proactive & ethical young woman, who is a lead fact-checker at HaqCheck, Addis Zeybe & its CSO partner Inform Africa. She is a graduate of Economics from Ambo University. She loves volunteering in community services & aspires to make the world a better place in whatever she does.