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Fact Check: Surrendering Amhara Fano in Viral Photo Actually From Tigray, Not Amhara

June 2, 2024

There is a significant amount of misinformation circulating about the ongoing armed conflict in Ethiopia’s troubled Amhara region. Supporters of the government are asserting victories over Fano, but it is important to note that this information is misleading. A photo that has been shared on Facebook supposedly depicting Amhara Fano surrendering to the Ethiopian army is actually showing rebels surrendering in the Tigray region during the regional war that concluded in 2022.

The post published on May 20, 2024 starts with “Breaking news,” in Amharic.

“The Jawisa militants who are operating in Shewa have massively surrendered to the defense force,” reads the post which has been shared more than 150 times since.

 

First coined (archived here) by the Ethiopian prime minister’s social affairs advisor, Daniel Kibret, the term “Jawisa” — meaning bandit in Amharic — is frequently used by government supporters on social media to refer to the Fano rebel group in Amhara region. Fano has been fighting against the Ethiopian army since July 2023.

The post further claims alleged divisions inside the rebel group have forced the militants to surrender to the army. “The Jawisa groups operating around Shewa are divided and the militant groups led by Meketaw and Asegid have been fighting and killing each other,” the post reads.

Shewa is a zone in the Amhara region, while Asegid and Meketaw are Fano leaders from the area.

The post says 15 members of the Asegid group were among those who surrendered.

The same claim was also shared on Facebook here and here.

Continued armed conflict

A recent report by the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (archived here) implicated government security forces in numerous cases of extrajudicial killings and civilian casualties in the ongoing conflicts in Amhara and Oromia, the two most populous regions of the country.

In mid-May, the African Union and the US ambassador to Ethiopia urged (archived here) the immediate cessation of hostilities and continued dialogue to achieve this.

The Ethiopian army on many occasions claimed that it had captured (archived here) rebels along with their firearms in the Amhara region.

However, the photo does not show rebels in the Amhara region who have surrendered to the army.

Tigray war

AFP Fact Check conducted reverse image searches and found that the photo shows fighters in the Tigray region who surrendered to the army in September 2022.

The two-year bloody war between the federal government and rebel forces in the Tigray region claimed nearly a million lives before hostilities ended with a peace agreement in Pretoria in November 2022.

The photo was originally published (archived here) by Fana Broadcasting Corporate (FBC), a government-affiliated broadcaster, on September 5, 2022, along with a report that explained that Tigray fighters had been captured by the army in various battles in the Tigray region.

In early September 2022, about two months before the peace agreement, the Ethiopian army and the Eritrean army – the Ethiopian government’s main ally at the time – launched a massive military offensive against TPLF forces (archived here).

AFP Fact Check has previously debunked similar claims here and here.

Tolera FIKRU GEMTA

AFP

 

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