Tedros Adhanom’s academic dress claimed to represent the Tigray flag

There were controversial and false claims all over social media platforms that the academic dress worn by Tedros Adhanom when he received an honorary degree from Edinburg University represents the flag of Tigray Regional State.

HaqCheck fact-checked the claim whether the academic dress represents the regional flag of Tigray. A Facebook page with more than 54 thousand followers on July shared a collection of images featuring Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Director of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom (Ph.D.), Indian movie actor Sha Rukh Khan, and the football legend Pele all wearing a similar academic dress of red gown and yellow velvet hood, implicitly telling that the red and yellow robe represents the Tigray regional flag.

The post was published after Tedros Adhanom, Director of WHO, received an Honorary Degree from the University of Edinburgh clad in a similar academic dress on Jul 14, 2022. Different social media pages have shared an image of different celebrities and influencers wearing red and yellow Gown claiming it to be the Flag of Tigray. 

Many social media posts also appeared sharing images of various politicians and celebrities wearing the same academic dress in a bid to show that these renowned personalities followed Tedros’ lead of honoring Tigray by wearing the same dress. 

A Facebook page with more than 138 thousand followers shared a post on Jul 16, captioned, “Indian Movie Actor Sha Rukh Khan has joined ‘The Tigray Prevails Movement’.”  by the time this article is posted the post had more than 300 reactions.

Honorary degree recipients of the University of Edinburgh wear the scarlet gown with a yellow velvet hood according to the university’s code of gown dressing and has no connection with the Flag of Tigray or any movement. And the referred recipients of the University’s honorary degree, Justin Trudeau, Sha Rukh Khan, and Pele received their degrees in Jul 2017, Oct 2015, and Aug 2012 respectively, which shows they were not part of a claimed Tedros-led pro-Tigray campaign. 

Therefore HaqCheck interrogated the Claim and rendered it False.

False images regarding the whereabouts of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed

False and old images were circulating during the week regarding the whereabouts of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. There were image-backed false claims. Some of the image-supported social media posts claimed that PM Abiy Ahmed went to a war front in southwestern Ethiopia to lead a military operation against insurgents.

Others claimed that the Prime Minister is ill and receiving medical treatment in a hospital. Old images had been circulating to support the claim.

However, the above image is found to be old and was even previously fact-checked by HaqCheck in January 2020. The original image can be accessed with the following link.

Somali regional forces killing Al Shabaab militants

As reports that fighting erupted between Somali regional forces and Al Shabaab militias emerged, false images started to circulate making the same claim. One of these image-backed claims was inquired by HaqCheck. A viral Facebook post appeared on June 21 sharing an image with a claim that Somali regional forces recently killed militants of AlShabaab in the Elekere woreda of the Somali Regional State. The claim stated that the Al Shabaab militias entered the Somali regional state in 14 vehicles and withdrew to the Bakool region of Somalia after they suffered a major defeat by the Somali regional special police force.

VOA reported on July 20, 2022, that fighting erupted between Al Shabaab militants and Somali regional special police forces, in areas along the Ethio-Somalia border, in the northwestern region of Bakool, within the territory of Somalia.

It is in this situational backdrop the viral report emerged claiming that military engagement recently erupted in the Somali region of Ethiopia between Al Shabaab militants and regional Somali special police force and Somali regional forces killed militants of Al Shabaab in the Elekere woreda of Somali regional state.

However, HaqCheck found out that the image used in the report was old and doesn’t show a recent military engagement between Al Shabaab militants and the Somali regional forces. The image was taken from an old publication.

The image was first published on May 24, 2018, on a site named Puntland Mirror, a self-described independent news outlet based in the city of Garowe, Puntland’s capital. It was published in a short news story that heavy fighting erupted between Puntland and Somaliland forces in the Sool region of Somaliland.

Therefore, HaqCheck rated the post False due to its use of an inaccurate image that doesn’t prove the claim.

A false image of an alleged massacre

False images had also been circulating with claims that they show victims of the massacres in different parts of the country. A Facebook page shared an image on Jul 14, claiming that the baby in the image is an Amhara who survived a recent massacre.

However, HaqCheck confirmed that the image is from Rwanda and shows a baby sitting among dead bodies during the Tutsi genocide. HaqCheck found the images in different posts at different times. 

Therefore, HaqCheck has rendered it False.


We recommend social media users be cautious and cross-check information before they share it with others. They should look for sources of the issues to confirm the authenticity of that information.

HaqCheck urges social media content creators to avoid fabricating and circulating false information.

The government and other concerned authorities are urged to ensure full access to information to the media and the wider public and to offer timely briefings regarding controversial matters.

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