TPLF InfoWars: Fact Checking the New York FAKE NEWS Times Caught Red-Handed Spreading Lies, Fake Photos and Disinformation on Ethiopia

30 mins read

Alemayehu G. Mariam
December 14, 2020

The dangerous lies, disinformation and fabrication campaign of the New York Times on Ethiopia

The New York Times, Reuters, BBC, Al Jazeera and other international media have all pulled out their long knives against Ethiopia.

In a well-coordinated media assault, these “nattering nabobs of negativism” have ganged up on Ethiopia as  propagandists for the now-defunct Tigrean People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). Almost every day, they unashamedly crank out and spread lies, damned lies and disinformation on Ethiopia.

It is no secret that the TPLF has hired an army of lobbyists and public relations firms to wage a global media war on Ethiopia.

That is evident in the fact that all of these media write maligning narratives using the same talking points provided to them by the TPLF public relations firms.

In a military victory rarely recorded in the annals of military history, the Ethiopia National Defense Force decimated the TPLF in two weeks on the battlefield.

Now, the ghost of the dead TPLF consigned to the trash heap if  history is furiously conducting Infowars and Lobbywars on Ethiopia.

On December 9, 2020, the New York Times published a story written by Abdi Latif Dahir under the headline, “Fleeing Ethiopians Tell of Ethnic Massacres in Tigray War”.

Here are a few excerpts from the lie-filled story of Abdi Latif Dahir the “Tigray War” anchored in the personal account of alleged victim “Ashenafi Hailu”:

…Mr. Ashenafi and dozens of other Tigrayan refugees fled the violence and settled outside the remote and dusty town of Hamdayet, a community of just a few thousand people near the border, where I spoke to them. Their firsthand accounts, shared a month after Ethiopia’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, declared war on the Tigray region, detail a devastating conflict that has become a grisly wellspring of looting, ethnic antagonism and killings…

…Mr. Ashenafi, 24, was racing on his motorcycle to the aid of a childhood friend trapped by the Ethiopian government’s military offensive in the northern region of Tigray when a group of men on foot confronted him. They identified themselves as militia members of a rival ethnic group, he said, and they took his cash and began beating him, laughing ominously.

“Finish him!” Mr. Ashenafi remembered one of the men saying.

As they tightened the noose around his neck and began pulling him along the road, Mr. Ashenafi was sure he was going to die, and he eventually passed out. But he said he awoke alone near a pile of bodies, children among them. His motorcycle was gone…

… As the fighting in Tigray continues, it is degenerating into a guerrilla war that could unravel both Ethiopia’s national fabric and the stability of the entire Horn of Africa region…

… After Mr. Ashenafi awoke and saw the bodies around him, he trudged through a nearby forest to reach the home of his friend, Haftamu Berhanu, who took him in. Photos taken by Mr. Haftamu and seen by The New York Times showed Mr. Ashenafi lying on his back, white skin peeled away around his neck from the noose.

For days afterward, Mr. Ashenafi could not talk or swallow anything and communicated with his friend through pointing or writing things down…

…Nearly 50,000 have fled to Sudan so far, in what the United Nations has called the worst exodus of refugees Ethiopia has seen in more than two decades…

 Devastating conflict in Tigray region has become a grisly wellspring of looting, ethnic antagonism and killings…

… As the fighting in Tigray continues, it is degenerating into a guerrilla war that could unravel both Ethiopia’s national fabric and the stability of the entire Horn of Africa region…

… William Davison, a senior Ethiopia analyst with the International Crisis Group who was recently expelled from the country… (Italics added.)

Patent Lie #1: “Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, declared war on the Tigray region.”

The TPLF declared war on the Northern Command of the Ethiopian Defense Force on November 3, 2020.

By stating “Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, declared war on the Tigray region,” the New York Times painted Ethiopia as the aggressor, the wrongdoer, the oppressor, raider, instigator, provoker and exposed Ethiopia to world condemnation and castigation.

The irrefutable fact is the TPLF is the aggressor, wrongdoer, etc. and the Times should have condemned it outright. But here are the facts.

Sekou Toure Getachew (see video below), a key member of the TPLF Junta explained in meticulous detail how the TPLF mounted an unprovoked  “blitzkrieg/thunderbolt” (“mebreqawi”) attack on the Federal Northern Command.

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Here is how U.S. Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Tibor Nagy explained the motive of the TPLF attack:

…It is important to remember here there is no equivalency.  There are not two states which have been belligerent with each other. You have a sovereign government on the one hand Ethiopia, and on the other you have the region hope which the basically started a conflict against the government.  It is interesting the Ethiopia Constitution has provisions for a region to secede from Ethiopia but, you know, the best evidence is the Tigrean leadership did not want to secede from Ethiopia. They wanted to use the opportunity basically to overthrow the prime minister and return to the type of privilege that they had enjoyed within the Ethiopian state for the last 27 years…

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Patent Lie #1: “Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, declared war on the Tigray region.”

The TPLF declared war on the Northern Command of the Ethiopian Defense Force on November 3, 2020.

By stating “Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, declared war on the Tigray region,” the New York Times painted Ethiopia as the aggressor, the wrongdoer, the oppressor, raider, instigator, provoker and exposed Ethiopia to world condemnation and castigation.

The irrefutable fact is the TPLF is the aggressor, wrongdoer, etc. and the Times should have condemned it outright. But here are the facts.

Sekou Toure Getachew (see video below), a key member of the TPLF Junta explained in meticulous detail how the TPLF mounted an unprovoked  “blitzkrieg/thunderbolt” (“mebreqawi”) attack on the Federal Northern Command.

Video Player

Here is how U.S. Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Tibor Nagy explained the motive of the TPLF attack:

…It is important to remember here there is no equivalency.  There are not two states which have been belligerent with each other. You have a sovereign government on the one hand Ethiopia, and on the other you have the region hope which the basically started a conflict against the government.  It is interesting the Ethiopia Constitution has provisions for a region to secede from Ethiopia but, you know, the best evidence is the Tigrean leadership did not want to secede from Ethiopia. They wanted to use the opportunity basically to overthrow the prime minister and return to the type of privilege that they had enjoyed within the Ethiopian state for the last 27 years…

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Patent Lie #2: “Devastating conflict in Tigray region has become a grisly wellspring of looting, ethnic antagonism and killings.”

The Times points an accusatory finger at the Ethiopian federal government for making the Tigray region the killing fields when it is the TPLF that made Tigray the killing fields. The TPLF began looting, killing and spreading  ethnic antagonism within days of its attack on the Northern Command. On November 12, 2020,   Amnesty International reported:

We have confirmed the massacre of a very large number of civilians, who appear to have been day labourers in no way involved in the ongoing military offensive. This is a horrific tragedy whose true extent only time will tell as communication in Tigray remains shut down… Survivors of the massacre told them that they were attacked by members of Tigray Special Police Force and other TPLF members.” (Italics added.)

Patent Lie #3: “Nearly 50,000 have fled to Sudan so far, in what the United Nations has called the worst exodus of refugees Ethiopia has seen in more than two decades.”

The New York Times story provides a link to a UN High Commissioner for Refugee (UNHCR) Report dated November 17, 2020. That report states, “More than 27,000 have now crossed into Sudan”. The Times falsely reported UNHCR described the situations as the “worst exodus of refugees Ethiopia has seen in more than two decades.” IT DID NOT!

Patent Lie #4: “As the fighting in Tigray continues, it is degenerating into a guerrilla war that could unravel both Ethiopia’s national fabric and the stability of the entire Horn of Africa region.”

Talk of a TPLF “guerilla war” is wishful and alarmist thinking. The TPLF had nurtured the silly narrative that its fighters and supporters are battle-hardened and well-armed, posing the risk of protracted insurgency in the rugged mountains of Tigray. The TPLF forces fell like a house of cards as the incomparable Ethiopian National Defense Force troops chased them across the countryside and wiped them out in two weeks! The TPLF is “defeated and in disarray, with insignificant capability to mount a protracted insurgency.” The LF in TPLF stands for Lie Factory, but here are the facts:

1) Ethiopian Federal troops have seized the regional capital Mekelle, the TPLF’s citadel, and announced the three-week offensive is over. 2) A new temporary regional administration is now functional. 3) The TPLF leaders are decrepit old men who are physically incapable of leading a guerilla war. 4) The TPLF has virtually no popular support in Tigray, indispensable for any guerilla war. 5) The TPLF has lost its military assets, which a month ago rivalled or exceeded the Federal government’s, to conduct a guerilla war. 6) The TPLF is surrounded on all sides by forces that are determined to eliminate it as a military threat. 7) The fabric of Ethiopian society has never been stronger as PM Abiy Ahmed enjoys wide popular support. 8) The Horn of Africa Region has never been more stable. Sudan, South Sudan, Eritrea, Somalia, Djibouti and Kenya have expressed full support for Ethiopia’s military action in Tigray region. 9) On December 9, 2020, PM Abiy and President Uhuru Kenyatta opened “one-stop border post” as part of the Trans African Highway. 10) Today, Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok is on a state visit in Ethiopia.

Patent Lie #5: “Mr. Abiy had sought to emphasize national unity and diversity in a multiethnic Ethiopia, even as he began methodically excluding Tigrayan figures from public life and condemning their abuses while they were in power. ”

The Times falsely suggests Tigreans are victims of wholesale discrimination and persecution in Ethiopia. They are not. The Ethiopian Government has sought out only those individuals, be they Tigreans or members of other ethnic groups, who have been colluding with the TPLF to engage in terrorism, criminality, treason and, for those in the military, conduct in violation of the military code. There is no methodical exclusion or discrimination against Tigreans. 

The Times itself reported last month Ethiopia’s attorney general, Gedion Timothewos, stated “the government takes the issue of ethnic profiling very seriously, and that it would establish a dedicated hotline for the public to report their complaints. We are doing everything within our power to make sure there will not be arbitrary or discriminatory measures. This is something that the government denounced.”  The Times failed to mention this fact held in its own archives to balance out the story.

Patent Lie #6: “William Davison, a senior Ethiopia analyst with the International Crisis Group who was recently expelled from the country.”

The Times cites as authority one William Davison for the proposition the “Tigray conflict has made [unity] that harder to achieve, and so increased the likelihood of serious ongoing political instability… William Davison, a senior Ethiopia analyst with the International Crisis Group who was recently expelled from the country.” The Times fails to disclose the fact that Davison had his visa revoked because he had engaged in visa fraud documented by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs.

Only ONE sentence on the TPLF massacre of 600 innocent citizens in Mai Kadra

The Times devotes only a single sentence to the TPLF Mai Kadra massacre.

The move is likely to lead to violent Tigrayan reprisals, he said, as may have already occurred in the town of Mai Kadra, where human rights groups have said forces loyal to the liberation front massacred as many as 600 people, most of them Amhara.

I could go on and on but I want to focus on the photograph the Times used to demonize Ethiopia.

Preliminary medical expert forensic report on alleged injuries depicted in the Times photograph of “Ashenafi Hailu”

Over the past few days, I have had the opportunity to informally consult with Ethiopian and other physicians specializing in trauma surgery, plastic surgery and dermatopathologist, among others, and asked them to examine the Times photograph (see below) and provide me a preliminary photographic forensic analysis (with a full analysis pending) of the injury allegedly sustained by “Ashenafi Hailu” at the hands of alleged militiamen.

The question presented was straightforward: Does the injury depicted in the New York Times photograph and described by the Times reporters consistent with medically observed ligature (neck) injuries?

Fake New York Times Photo

The TPLF attacked Ethiopian Federal troops on November 3, 2020. The alleged injury occurred “within a month” of the onset of the “war”.

The New York Times published its report on December 12, 2020.

According to the Times description, the alleged militiamen placed a “noose around his neck”, “pulling him along the road” and beating him”.

Assuming the neck injury occurred on the very day the TPLF attacked Federal troops (Nov. 3) and the Times reporters interviewed the alleged victim (“firsthand accounts, shared a month after Ethiopia’s prime minister declared war…”), is it likely to a medical certainty that “Ashenafi” could have sustained the injury depicted in the photograph between three to four weeks of the onset of the “war”?

[I expect a full expert medical opinion on a medical forensic analysis of the New York Times photograph in the foreseeable future and will make it public.]

The preliminary experts’ analysis unanimously concluded the age of the neck injury (scar) depicted in the photograph is beyond 3 months and certainly not less than 6 weeks. The gross appearance of the scar does not fit the described nature of injury and timing.

Here are the preliminary observations of different medical experts on the New York Times photograph which they examined, some who did so under high magnification.

The observations are presented as indicated by the various medical experts. Observations may differ.

The noose injury scar which is visible only from the alleged victim’s left side is definitely more than 4 weeks old because in a more recent injury (less than three months), one would see more pink dermal tissue, which is not presented in the photograph of the alleged victim. Normal skin turnover is 28 days and the injury depicted in the photograph is manifestly over 28 days and highly likely more than 90 days at a minimum and more in the range of 6 months or more.

The scar is consistent with pre-planned thyroidectomy for removal of goiter. In the particular area of the victim (The Highlands), the incidence of goiter is approximately one in three persons.

The linearity of the incision and pattern of scar formation on the alleged victim’s neck is consistent with a surgical scar, not ligature to the neck by rope or cord.

The scarring does not show scaling/crusting on the surface within the borders of the original wound but rather shows smooth surface and evidence of early keloid/hypertrophic scar formation which does not occur in three to four weeks.

The wound appears to be a superficial linear cut into the skin, an incision with a sharp instrument instead of injury from a rope type of noose.

If not an incision, the material used for the noose is likely a natural fiber rope than a wire or thin nylon cord. A wire or nylon cord under force (dragging, pulling, beating) could cut clean through the neck causing instant death.

It is difficult to determine the type of knot used in making the noose but for the alleged victim to survive violent “dragging”, “pulling”, “beating”, as described in the story, it is likely to be a single loop. A more sophisticated knot (e.g. constrictor knot) would be non-slipping at the end of the rope causing separation of the neck from the vertebrae (rest of the body) under force traction.

If the victim had been dragged and pulled under force traction, he would have suffered severed or severely damaged carotid artery which supplies blood to the brain resulting in a total vegetative state if the victim had survived.

From the description in the story, the ligature on the alleged victim’s neck was not gradually tightened but he was violently dragged and pulled and beaten. Such compression on the airways and blood vessels in the neck produces asphyxia cutting off oxygen supply to the body and brain resulting in death.

The victim’s weight under force traction to his neck by dragging and pulling would have separated his cervical vertebrae resulting in death.

The point of ligature around the neck under in multiple knot loops of noose would cause maximum force traction causing significant damage to the neck likely causing death or major neurological and thyroid cartilage damage resulting in paralysis.

If the alleged victim was “dragged”, “pulled along the road” by the neck and beaten as indicated in the story, there would have been evidence of abrasions, laceration, cuts, scrapes and scratches in the facial and shoulder areas. None of these are evident in the photograph.

If the alleged victim was “dragged”, “pulled along the road” by the neck and beaten as indicated in the story, his hyoid bone would have been crushed in which case he will not be able to hold up his tongue or have a functional larynx and would effectively be unable to speak and conduct the interview.

If the alleged victim was “dragged”, “pulled along the road” by the neck and beaten as indicated in the story, he would have suffered occlusion of proximal airway, that is  blockage of respiration in the airway. He would not be able to breath resulting in instant death by asphyxiation.

There are no hospitals or specialized wound care services in the Mai Kadra area (closest Hospital is in Humera) which the alleged victim could access for treatment of major neck injury. The story reports the alleged victim receiving no medical intervention. Under the described conditions, the victim would not have been able to recover from the alleged injury in 3-4 weeks or be able to speak.

In the absence of medical intervention or access to tertiary medical facilities (highly specialized medical care that can do advanced and complex procedures and treatments by medical specialists in state-of-the-art facilities), the alleged victim under the described conditions would have likely developed infections which would affect the pattern of healing and scar formation (from clean to jagged) and damage to nearby tissues would have been visible. The scar tissue is consistent with a well-healed injury that occurred over several months.

The Times report fails to indicate the material and types of knots used for the ligature. For instance, if wire or thin cord is used, there is likely to be a clear-cut, deep mark with sharply defined edges. A rope pulled tight around the neck will likely create a series of ridges that will show up as interlacing areas of bruising. No trace of such bruising is evident in the photograph.

No signs of defensive wounds. Victims almost always knowingly or reflexively try to defend themselves from attacks. In the victim’s situation described by the Times, defensive wounds are more often than not to be found on the hands, arms, shoulders of an individual who has been attacked and indicate how much of a struggle the victim put up and the frenzy of the attacker. The victim would have suffered defensive wounds under the pulling, dragging and beating depending upon how the assailant(s) approached him. No evidence of defensive wounds are visible in the photograph or reported.

The report claims the alleged victim was “beaten” violently. In the attack which allegedly  caused the neck injury, any beatings would have been delivered to the face of the victim. There is no evidence of injury or trauma to the alleged victim’s face.

New York Times Eth(n)ical Standards?

The New York Times slogan is “All the news that is fit to print.”

Does that include “All the fake photos unfit to print” as well? 

The Times in lofty words pontificates about its journalistic standards:

“The Times strives to maintain the highest standards of journalistic ethics… Whatever else we contribute, our first duty is to make sure the integrity of The Times is not blemished during our stewardship… Our fundamental purpose is to protect the impartiality and neutrality of The Times and the integrity of its report… Conflicts of interest, real or apparent, may come up in many areas. They may involve the relationships of staff members with readers, news sources, advocacy groups… No one may do anything that damages The Times’s reputation for strict neutrality in reporting on politics and government…

… In print and online, we tell our readers the complete, unvarnished truth as best we can learn it. It is our policy to correct our errors, large and small, as soon as we become aware of them… (Italics added.)

Did the New York Times even bother to have a medical expert look at the photo to verify if it is consistent with the alleged injury suffered by  the alleged victim?

I ask the reader one simple question: Did the New York Times live by the journalistic standards its professes in its story written by Abdi Latif Dahir, “Fleeing Ethiopians Tell of Ethnic Massacres in Tigray War”?

TO BE CONTINUED…

 

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