December 15, 2020

Was the person in the image found dead in Tigray due to the ongoing military operation in the region?

HAQCHECKFact checking

On December 14, 2020 a facebook post was published by a facebook user named ኣነ ንባእላ ትግራይ (an…

Avatar: Hagos Gebreamlak
By Hagos Gebreamlak

A fact-checker at HaqCheck, he has worked for Fortune as a reporter previously.

Was the person in the image found dead in Tigray due to the ongoing military operation in the region?

On December 14, 2020 a facebook post was published by a facebook user named ኣነ ንባእላ ትግራይ (an account with 15,849 followers) sharing the picture below of a man who sleeping on straw with the claim that the man (the post claims the person is woman) was found dead because of starvation due to the ongoing military operation in Tigray. The text - which is written in Tigrinya reads “Please share it so that Tigreans and Tigrean-friends in the world can see. … People who managed to escape bullets are dying because of starvation in Tigray… Properties are robbed,.. No electricity, no money due to banks being closed...” The user pleads with other users to share the image worldwide. However, HaqCheck has confirmed that the picture below doesn’t show the realities in Tigray, rendering the verdict FALSE for the usage of the image falsely to support the claim.

Granted, it is true that there have been instabilities in Tigray due to the armed conflict between the federal government-led forces and TPLF-led Tigray Special Forces and militia since November 4, 2020. The Ethiopian National Defence Forces (ENDF) and Amhara regional forces on one front, and the Tigray special police force and militia on the other side have been engaged in conflict since then. It is also true that due to the ensuing conflict and other humanitarian concerns (such as the desert locust invasion and COVID19) have contributed to the humanitarian crisis being compounded in the Tigray region. Due to initial moves by the TPLF it is also true that transportation, electricity and banking service have remained closed since the onset of the armed conflict, until being partially restored in the region after the Federal forces controlled major cities in Tigray. According to international relief organizations such as the UNHCR, UNOCHA and ICRC there is a shortage of food, medicine and other essential resources in the region. 

Recently the federal government sent thousands of quintals of food item humanitarian aid to Mekelle and Shire.

Image 1: Altered Image (“Ohhhh Mother!” With grief emoji)

Image 2: Original Image

However, a reverse image search of the image that was posted by the facebook account indicates that the man slept on straw is not in Tigray. The picture was published for the first time on Reddit, an American social news aggregation, web content rating and discussion website with a text written in Nepali on November 25, 2020. At the time, the reddit user posted the image with the translated text “In the language of KP Oli [the current Nepali prime minister], it is a non-national element that is scared to see prosperity in the country. In the language of KP Oli, this is propaganda that sees the root of development in the country.” The post can be accessed using the following link. Two days later cinekala.com, social media website wrote a story on the image claiming that the man was 77-years-old Rai (ethnolinguistic group in Nepal) and had been ill for 10 years and found slept on straw because he didn't have any piece of cloth or bed. The story can be accessed using the following link.

HaqCheck has interrogated the post and confirmed that the picture was not captured during the current crises in Tigray neither was the man on the image found dead in Tigray. Consequently, HaqCheck has rated the above post as FALSE for using the wrong picture to support the claim.

Fact Checked by: Hagos Gebreamlak

Edited by: Bruck Negash Teame

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

Editor's Note: 

The following article was published as part of Addis Zeybe’s multilingual fact checking initiative. As the reconstruction of our website continues, Addis Zeybe would like its readers to note that it will be publishing fact checking articles on a permanent basis in five languages (Afaan Oromo, Amharic, Somali, Tigrinya and English. Addis Zeybe will also be publishing monthly pandemic impact assessment and human rights reports in the coming months.