False: The image does not show weapons found inside the premises of an Orthodox church in Shashemene

A Facebook page with over 39,000 followers shared an image with a short caption, “these [weapons] were found inside the premises of an Orthodox Church in Shashemene”. By the time this article was published, the post was shared thirteen times.

However, HaqCheck inspected the image and confirmed it was old. Therefore, the post was rendered False.

On Jan 22, 2023, former archbishops of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church appointed bishops without the recognition of the synod of the church.

Abune Sawiros,  Archbishop of South West Shoa, and two others ordained 26 bishops to various episcopates in Oromia and southern parts of the country.

The Ethiopian Orthodox Church’s Synod immediately convened about the issue and denounced the bishops who participated in the appointment of the breakaway episcopate. The synod excommunicated Abune Sawiros and other bishops for ‘violating the church’s canonical orders’.

The breakaway archbishops announced that the bishops appointed by Abune Sawiros would travel to their respective episcopates. Social media reports indicated that some of these bishops were welcomed by residents in Oromia.

The leader of the breakaway bishops, Abune Sawiros, appointed Abune Pawlos to the West Arsi diocese in Shashemene town. Tension and clashes erupted during the trip of the newly appointed bishop to Shashemene.

According to news reports, three people were killed in the town of Shashemene after a clash broke out between the supporters of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church Synod and the schismatic bishops.

It was in this context a Facebook post emerged sharing an image with a claim that weapons were found inside the premises of an Orthodox Tewahido church in Shashemene.

HaqCheck used a google reverse image to search if the image was previously published on the platform.

As a result, HaqCheck discovered that the picture was old and published two years ago. The image was previously shared on Facebook on Mar 15, 2021. The original image was shared with a description that the Ethiopian Federal Police seized weapons and ammunition in the Sidama regional state.

Therefore, HaqCheck rated the post False.

False: The image doesn’t show a church destroyed in Tigray during the armed conflict

A Facebook post emerged on Feb 6, 2023, sharing an image with a claim that the picture shows a church destroyed in Tigray during the armed conflict between the Ethiopian government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). The post alleges that the Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox Tewahdo churches were collaborators when churches were destroyed in Tigray during the war.

However, the image was very old and doesn’t prove the claim that it shows a church destroyed in Tigray during the recent war. HaqCheck rated the claim as False.

War broke out on Nov 3, 2020, between the Ethiopian government and the TPLF forces after the latter attacked Ethiopian military bases in Tigray.

On Nov 17, 2020, Ethiopian state-affiliated media outlets (EBC, Ethiopian News Agency) reported that the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church expressed its support for the Ethiopian armed forces.

News reports indicate that churches were damaged in Tigray regional state during the armed conflict.

Amid the war, Orthodox Tewahido clergies in the Tigray regional state announced last year that they cut ties with the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church.

On Jan 22, 2023, Abune Sawiros, Archbishop of South West Shoa, along with two others appointed 26 bishops without the recognition of the Holy Synod of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church. The breakaway clergy announced that seventy bishops would be dispatched to churches in the Oromia regional state.

The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church denounced and excommunicated Abune Sawiros and other bishops who co-organized the appointment.

A few days later, the breakaway archbishops denounced and excommunicated twelve archbishops of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

The split stirred up tensions in various parts of the country. VOA reported that conflict erupted in Shashemene town at a church and three people were killed.

The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church called upon its members to wear black for three days to protest against the breakaway group and alleged government involvement in the issue.

Against this backdrop, a Facebook post shared an image on Feb 6, 2023, claiming that the picture shows a church destroyed in Tigray during the war between the Ethiopian government and TPLF forces. The Facebook account has over twenty thousand followers and the post can reach many audiences.

However, the image was old and doesn’t support the claim that it shows a church destroyed in Tigray during the recent war.

The image shows a church in the town of Adi Keyh, Eritrea, destroyed during the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea. The picture was taken from a video published by Reuters in April 1999.

Later on, the post was edited and the image was replaced with three pictures. HaqCheck could not confirm whether the later three images prove the claim or not.Therefore, the post was rated False.

False: The image doesn’t prove the presence of Eritrean soldiers in Tigray.

On Feb 3, 2023, a Facebook page posted an image claiming that Eritrean troops were still in the northeastern parts of the Tigray regional state. The post also said that Eritrean soldiers detained workers of international organizations.

The Facebook page has over a hundred thousand followers and the post was shared twenty-five times.

However, HaqCheck checked the image and proved that the image was old and doesn’t support the claim that Eritrean soldiers were still in Tigray.

War broke out between the Ethiopian government and Tigray Liberation Front (TPLF) on Nov 3, 2020, following months of tension.

The Eritrea Defence Forces, Amhara regional militia, and other armed forces were involved in the war alongside the federal government of Ethiopia against TPLF forces.

The belligerents signed a peace agreement in November 2022 to end the two years war. The peace agreement concluded in Pretoria asserts that TPLF forces shall surrender their weapons and foreign and non-ENDF armed forces to leave the regional state of Tigray.

The Ethiopian government and the TPLF agreed that the disarmament of heavy weapons of the TPLF should be done concurrently with the withdrawal of Eritrean and non-ENDF forces from the Tigray.

News reports indicate that Eritrean soldiers started withdrawing from Tigray last month. They left the towns of Aksum, Adwa, and Shire. Additionally, Amhara regional armed forces also reportedly left Shire town.

Yet, it is still unknown whether the non-ENDF and Eritrean troops have fully withdrawn from the Tigray regional state.

In this background, a Facebook post emerged on Feb 3, 2023, sharing an image  with a claim that Eritrean soldiers had not fully withdrawn and were still in northeastern parts of Tigray.

However, HaqCheck cross-checked the claim and confirmed that the image doesn’t support the claim. The image was taken from an old  publication made in May 2021. It was first published along with a news story by CNN.

Therefore, HaqCheck rendered the post False.

Partly False: The images don’t show people celebrating the appointment and dispatching of new bishops in Oromia

On Jan 27, 2023, a Facebook page, followed by more than two million accounts, shared three images claiming that the residents in many towns in the Oromia region were celebrating the appointment of new bishops.

The Facebook post went viral and gained close to twenty thousand engagements on the platform.

However, HaqCheck inquired about the post and confirmed that two of the three images were old. The two pictures don’t support the claim. As a result, the post was rated Partially False.

On Jan 22, 2023, Abune Sawiros, Archbishop of South West Shoa, along with two archbishops appointed 26 bishops without the recognition of the Holy Synod of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church. Seventy of the bishops appointed by Abune Sawiros were announced to be dispatched to churches in the Oromia regional state.

Following this appointment, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church denounced the act. The Church also excommunicated Abune Sawiros and other bishops who co-organized the appointment.

A few days later, the breakaway archbishops denounced and excommunicated twelve archbishops of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. They also announced that nominee bishops would soon be dispatched.

Social media reports indicate that the newly appointed bishops were sent to their respective domains and were warmly received by residents.

It is in this context, the Facebook post emerged on Jan 27, 2023, sharing three images with the claim that the residents in many towns in the Oromia region were celebrating the appointment of new bishops.

The images, however, do not support the claim. The first two images in the post were taken from a YouTube video published in February 2020.

The third picture depicts Abune Sawiros who appointed the new bishops. The image was recently posted on Facebook.

Therefore, HaqCheck rated the post as False due to the usage of inaccurate images.

False: the image doesn’t show OLA militants assaulting police officers in a recent conflict in Amhara regional state

On Jan 22, 2023, a Facebook page with close to one hundred thousand followers posted an image claiming that Oromo Liberation Army militants opened a sudden attack on a camp and killed more than 20 police officers during an ongoing conflict in Jewha town, Amhara regional state.

The post was viral and was shared close to forty times on Facebook.

However, HaqCheck investigated the image and confirmed that the image used to support the claim is old. Therefore, the post was rated False.

Ethiopia has been experiencing recurrent conflict, particularly in recent years. The armed conflict between the Ethiopian government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) was settled in a peace agreement signed at the beginning of November last year.

The Ethiopian government has been fighting insurgency with the Oromo Liberation Army, which is addressed by the government as Shene.

Mass killings and displacement occurred amid the insurgency. The belligerents have been accusing each other of targeting civilians.

There have been intercommunal conflicts and violence in Oromia and Amhara regions. The Wollega zones in Oromia and the North Shewa and Oromo Special zones in Amhara were rage by recurrent conflicts.

Conflict broke out in the Oromo Special Zone in October 2019 in which three people were killed.

In March and April 2021, over three hundred thousand people were displaced in a conflict in the troubled zone. A year later, violence ensued and more than a dozen people were reported killed.

Social media and news reports this week indicate that conflict erupted in the North Shewa and Oromo Special zones and in the towns of Ataye and Jewha in particular.

Against this backdrop, a Facebook post emerged claiming that Oromo Liberation Army militants launched a sudden attack on a camp and killed more than 20 police officers during an ongoing conflict in the town of Jewha, Amhara regional state.

However, HaqCheck investigated the image and confirmed that the image used to support the claim was old. The picture doesn’t prove the claim.

The image was originally published on a website on  March 20, 2021, along with a short news story.

Therefore, HaqCheck rated the post False due to its usage of an inaccurate image.

False: The video doesn’t show Oromo houses torched in a recent conflict in Wollo

On Jan 23, 2023, a Facebook page, followed by more than six thousand users shared a video claiming that houses belonging to ethnic Oromos were torched in an ongoing conflict in the Oromo Special Zone of the Amhara region. The post also claimed that armed militias were killing Oromos and looting houses.

The Facebook post went viral and got many reactions on the platform. 

HaqCheck, however, found out that the image was old and does not support the claim. Therefore, the post was rated False.

Intercommunal conflicts have been recurrently occurring in the Oromo Special zone and the adjacent North Shewa zone in the Amhara regional state.

Recently, social media reports indicate that there was an ongoing conflict in areas of the two volatile zones.

On Jan 24, 2023, the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) released a statement stating that there was a coordinated attack by Amhara regional authorities against ethnic Oromos in the Oromo Special zone.

The statement claimed that regional security forces and militias assaulted civilians on Jan 21, 2023, torched houses, and looted properties.

The OLF stated that more than 65 civilians were killed during the ongoing conflict.

It is in this context a Facebook post emerged on Jan 24, 2023, sharing a video that shows torched houses. The post claimed that the video shows Oromo houses being burnt in an ongoing conflict in the Amhara region.

The video, however, does not support the claim. The video was made up of images by converting a picture into a moving image or video.

The image that was used to fabricate the video was taken from an old publication made on Dec 23, 2020.

The original image was published along with a report that many civilians were massacred in the Metekel zone of Benishangul Gumuz.

Therefore, the post was rated False.

False: The image doesn’t show a recent conflict in Ataye town, Amhara region

An image that shows burning houses was circulating on Facebook with a claim that the picture belongs to a recent conflict in the town of Ataye, Amhara regional state. The image was posted along with two others on Facebook on Jan 24, 2023, by a page that has over five thousand followers.

Two hours later, the image was published by a Facebook page with more than five thousand followers on the same platform with the same claim that it shows an ongoing conflict in Ataye.

However, HaqCheck investigated the claim and confirmed that the image was first published three years ago and doesn’t show an ongoing conflict in the area. Thus, the claim was rated False.

Recurrent conflict and violence have been raging in the North Shewa and the Oromo Special zones of the Amhara regional state and adjacent areas since 2019.

In October 2019, a conflict in which three people were killed was reported. Two years later in 2021, a severe conflict occurred in the Oromo Special Zone, particularly in Ataye town.

The conflict spanned two months and hundreds of civilians were killed and injured. More than three hundred thousand people were displaced and over three thousand houses were destroyed in the April and March 2021 conflict and violence.

A quarter of the town of Ataye was destroyed during the conflict. The Amhara regional government asked for 1.5 billion Birr for the reconstruction of the town and for other rehabilitation efforts.

In April 2022, a conflict broke out in the North Showa and Oromo Special zones of the Amhara region. Over a dozen people were killed in that particular conflict.

This week, there were social media reports that conflict recently erupted in the North Shewa and Oromo Special zones and in the towns of Ataye and Jewha in particular.

Against this backdrop, an image came to circulate on Facebook with the claim that the image shows an ongoing conflict and violence in Ataye town. The picture shows properties being burnt. The image was shared by two Facebook pages each with over five thousand followers on Jan 24, 2023.

Yet, HaqCheck confirmed that the image was old and doesn’t show an ongoing conflict in the area.

The image was first published three years ago on Facebook in April 2019. The text that accompanied the image claims that the image shows a church destroyed by fire in the town of Ataye at that time.

Therefore, HaqCheck rated the claim as False.

False: Ambassador Misganu Arega is not appointed as Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister replacing Demeke Mokennen.

On Jan 11, 2023, a Facebook post emerged sharing the picture of Ambassador Mesganu Arega with a claim that he was appointed as Ethiopian Foreign Minister by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

The post also stated that the new minister replaced the incumbent foreign minister Demeke Mokkonen.

The Facebook page has over thirteen thousand followers and the post is highly likely to reach a wider audience.

HaqCheck however confirmed that Ambassador Mesganu Arega was not appointed a foreign minister. Prime Minister Abiy appointed the former ambassador as a state minister of the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry.

Ministerial reshuffling has been recurrent since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power.

When Abiy came in 2018, Workneh Gebeyehu, the current Executive Secretary of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) was Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister.

The former Amhara regional president, Gedu Andargachew replaced Workneh Gebeyehu as Foreign Minister in 2019.

As the war between the Ethiopian government and Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) broke out in November 2020, Prime Minister Abiy appointed Demeke Mekonnen as the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Demeke has since been the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister.

On Jan 11, 2023, the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs published a short news statement on its Facebook page that Prime Minister Abiy named former ambassador Mesganu Arega as Foreign State Minister, effective January 10.

The claim that PM Abiy picked Mesganu Arega as Ethiopian Foreign Minister replacing Demeke Mokonnen immediately emerged on Facebook.

The post was later edited and stated that the former ambassador was appointed as Ethiopia’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.

However, HaqCheck cross-checked the information and confirmed that Ambassador Mesganu Arega was not appointed as a new Foreign Minister.

Additionally, he was not named as Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia asserts that the former CEO of the Ethio-Engineering Group and former ambassador to Qatar and UAE was appointed as a State Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Thus, HaqCheck rendered the post False.

No: Ethiopia already launched its second earth observation satellite in December 2020

State-affiliated media outlets such as the Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation and the Ethiopian News Agency published a news story on Facebook that Ethiopia was preparing to launch its ‘second’ satellite into orbit.

The Facebook posts by the two pages were shared half a thousand times and got close to ten thousand reactions.

However, HaqCheck investigated the claim and confirmed that Ethiopia launched its second satellite into orbit two years ago. Thus, the claim was rated False.

Ethiopia launched its first satellite into space in December 2019. The satellite is an earth observatory remote sensing satellite. The satellite named (ETRSS-1) was constructed in China and was launched from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in China.

The Ethiopian first ever satellite required more than seven million dollars, and the Chinese government covered most of the cost. It was designed to be used for weather forecast and crop monitoring.

The satellite was developed by the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST), the prime contractor, in collaboration with 21 Ethiopian scientists, trained on the project as part of the technology-transfer agreement between China and Ethiopia.

Link

A year after launching its first-ever satellite into space, Ethiopia launched its second satellite in December 2020. The satellite named ET-Smart-RSS was launched from China’s Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site. The initial design work of the rocket was done in Ethiopia, but technical work was done in China in collaboration with Chinese experts.

Link

The state-affiliated media organization, Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation, and the Ethiopian News Agency reported that Ethiopia was preparing to launch a second satellite into space.

However, HaqCheck investigated the information and confirmed that Ethiopia launched its second rocket into orbit back in 2020.

News reports indicate that Ethiopia has been preparing to launch a third satellite into space. The soon-to-be-launched satellite is each observatory and will have a higher image resolution than its predecessors.

HaqCheck spoke with Yeshurun Alemayehu (PhD), Deputy Director of the Ethiopian Space Science and Technology Institute (ESSTI) about the issue. He confirmed to HaqCheck that Ethiopia already launched two satellites and will launch a third soon.

Therefore HaqCheck rendered the post as False.

False: the image doesn’t show properties recently looted from Tigray

On Jan 9, 2023, a Twitter account posted an image with a claim that properties were recently being looted [by Eritrean soldiers] from Tigray regional state.

The tweet was shared 75 times and was viewed by over two thousand users on the platform.

However, HaqCheck found out that the image used to support the claim was old. The picture was first published on Facebook on April 21, 2022.

After months of tension, the federal government of Ethiopia and TPLF went to war on Nov 4, 2020.

Allied forces, including the Eritrean Defence Forces (EDF) and Amhara regional militias, were also involved alongside the federal government squashing the TPLF.

The armed forces involved in the two-year armed conflict were accused of mass killing and looting.

The war lasted for two years until a peace agreement was signed between the two parties at the beginning of November 2022.

Since the peace deal was signed in Pretoria, South Africa, fighting has been stopped.

The peace agreement between the Ethiopian government and the TPLF asserts that the disarmament of heavy weapons of the TPLF should be done concurrently with the withdrawal of Eritrean and non-ENDF forces from the Tigray regional state.

At the end of last month, Eritrean troops were reported to start leaving major towns in the Tigray regional state.

Yet, it is still unknown whether the non-ENDF and Eritrean troops have fully withdrawn from the Tigray regional state.

On Jan 9, 2023, a tweet emerged sharing an image with a claim that Eritrean troops recently looted properties from Tigray. The image used in support of the claim depicts many trucks transporting unidentified materials.

However, HaqCheck looked into the claim and confirmed that the image doesn’t prove the claim.

The image is old and was published for the first time on Apr 21, 2022, on Facebook. The description of the original image states that the picture shows looted properties being transported from Humera to Gondar at the time.

Therefore, HaqCheck rated the post as False.

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