Last week social media platforms were populated with controversial claims and disinformation content.
Controversy over “new regional administrative boundary map”
However, the Administrative Boundaries and Identity Issues Commission confuted the claim on its Facebook page. The commission said that “there are no recommendations we proposed on regional boundaries at all.”
Ethiopia has a federal system with 11 language-based regional states and two chartered city administrations. This federal arrangement was laid out in the 1994 constitution in part to correct what was seen as over-centralization under the Dergue regime.
“Tactical retreat” Vs “Driven Out”
This one is another hot controversy of last week that circulated on social and mainstream media. Most pro-Tigrayan pages and media were spreading information about Tigrayan forces’ leaving the areas they occupied in the neighboring Afar and Amhara regions, labeling it as “Systematic retreat.”
It is reported that Debretsion Gebremichal, TPLF chairperson, wrote a three-page letter to the United Nations, describing Tigray's withdrawal from Amhara & Afar back to the border of Tigray is a performed offer, showing readiness for a ceasefire.
On the other hand, pro-government media outlets and the Federal Government Communication service announced that TPLF was driven out from Amhara and Afar regions due to the heroic struggle of the allied Ethiopian forces taking on different fronts over the Tigrayan troops.
A YouTube channel posted a video captioned, “How armed drones helped turn the tide in Ethiopia’s war”.
HaqCheck has interrogated the screenshot taken from the video and learned that the video footage doesn’t show the Ethiopian Air force conducting a drone attack on mountainous areas in the northern part of Ethiopia. The video was published by the channel to support this claim.
A Google reverse image search of the screenshot shows that the video footage was first posted on Aug 31, 2017, on ABC News, with the title “US and allies display military might in direct response to North Korean missile test.”
On ABC News’ article, a photo of the second footage was captured by US Pacific Command USINDOPACOM (United States Indo-Pacific Command) that is in charge of using and integrating United States Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps forces within the USINDOPACOM area of responsibility (AOR) to achieve U.S. national security objectives while protecting national interests.
Joint military training was undertaken to counter North Korean intermediate-range ballistic missile tests. The U.S. and ROKAF (The Republic of Korean Air Force) aircraft then flew across the Korean peninsula and practiced attack capabilities by releasing live weapons at the Pilsung Range training area.
Even though there are several claims that the Federal Government used armed drones at the battleground, the video footage doesn’t show or prove that the Ethiopian government used armed drones during the war. Therefore HaqCheck rendered the claim FALSE.
Partly False claim
A Facebook page with more than 75 thousand followers posted a link of a news article on Dec 18. The post reported the military engagements and victories claimed to be achieved by the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) alongside a statement that the army commanded its troops to ‘continue attacks on ethnic Amharas’ residing in Oromia Regional State in reference to a recent communique as its source.
OLA had also been issuing press statements announcing that some areas in Oromia Regional State are under its control on a website named OLA Communique. On Dec 16, OLA published a communique entitled OLA UPDATE #17 on this website regarding its recent.
HaqCheck looked into the website named OLA communique, in which OLA (Shane) announced its press statements and military engagements, and battlefield victories around different areas in the Oromia Region. Though the statement announced recent battlefield engagement developments of OLA, it doesn’t command the armed group to ‘continue attacks’ or target ethnic Amharas in Oromia or ‘not to attack’ Oromia Regional forces.
HaqCheck cross-checked the claim and the recent communique and rendered the post as PARTLY FALSE.
HaqCheck recommends the public in general and social media users that should be conscious of the origin and intention of any unverified information they read and share with others. This includes disinformation trends and consumers should identify the right pages and sources to understand the intention and credibility of the message they are reading or sharing.
Information disorder increases during a shortage of reliable, trustworthy information. We recommend the government and all public entities allow private media organizations and the public to have full access to information kept behind the curtain.
HaqCheck is a local multilingual fact-checking project based in Ethiopia, formed inside Addis Zeybe’s newsroom, now Inform Africa’s Counter Disinformation Project - a board-led Civil Society Organization (CSO) - dedicated to verifying media contents from social to the mainstream. HaqCheck works in collaboration with media outlets to monitor media contents in English and four local languages (Amharic, Afaan Oromo, Tigrigna, and Somali).
This report is produced with the support of UNESCO under the #CoronavirusFacts: Addressing the ‘Disinfodemic’ on COVID-19 in conflict-prone Environments that the UNESCO Addis Ababa Office is implementing in Ethiopia with financial support from the European Union (EU). The designations employed and the presentation of material throughout this publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of UNESCO or the EU concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city, or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. The ideas and opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of UNESCO or The European Union and do not commit these organizations in any way.