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Does the image show mothers in Mekelle condemning the TPLF?

Avatar: Naol Getachew
Naol GetachewJuly 30, 2021
HAQCHECKFact checking
Does the image show mothers in Mekelle condemning the TPLF?

A Facebook page with over 212,7570 followers posted a photo with text that says mothers in Mekelle, capital of Tigray Region, are going out to the streets to complain over the acts of the Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF).  

Posted on July 28, the Amharic written text reads: “Mothers in Mekelle complained over TPLF! The mothers of Mekelle are going out to the streets saying that "Mekelle has turned to hell, asking the “Juntas” sorrowfully to bring back their children from the war zone saying the kids are dying in hunger...“. 

The claim is supported by an image, which shows elderly women mourning on the street. The post has been shared more than 1,500 times up until this article was published. HaqCheck looked into the post and has rated it as FALSE.

The Ethiopian federal government has been battling the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) since November 2020 after accusing it of attacking military bases in the restive region. Following three weeks of armed conflict, the federal government occupied the regional capital city, Mekelle, and most parts of the regional state.

During the armed conflict, it was reported that TPLF officials had been captured and killed by the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF). However, the international community also accused the Federal government, ENDF, Amhara special forces and militia, and Eritrean troops of crimes against humanity including massacres and rapes.

After eight months of the war, the Ethiopian government announced that it had decided to withdraw troops from the region and declare a humanitarian ceasefire. After being dislodged by Ethiopia’s military, the former leaders of the region claimed to have regained control on 28 June 2021 over the regional capital.

Based on the story that was published on Financial Times’s front page and other allegations, it was reported that TPLF is conscripting child soldiers into fresh battles. Interviews of the mentioned captured child soldiers were also released. Over the past weeks after the TPLF forces retook the regional state, different information is coming out on social media, including the one posted by the page.

HaqCheck looked into the image posted by the page. A reverse image search of the image shows that the image was first posted on 21 October, 2018Twitter. The tweet was shared in the context that there were protests around Raya Alamata about Raya people in the Tigray region raising identity questions during that time.

Original Image 

Despite reports that TPLF is conscripting child soldiers, HaqCheck has confirmed that the image does not show crying mothers in Mekelle, rendering the post False due to the inaccuracy of the image. Additionally, HaqCheck observed that up until the time this article was published there had been no official report of related incidents from any side.

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A PIECE BYNaol Getachew

Naol is a journalist and fact-checker at Addis Zeybe for HaqCheck. He is a professional working in the fields of fact-checking, journalism, online storytelling, and translation.