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Perpetrators Abusing a Person with Knife and Gun was Claimed on OLF-OLA

By Alemu Teshome

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Claims: Social media accounts claimed that the perpetrators of recently circulated video of armed soldiers threatening a victim with a knife and a gun were the fighters of the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA)

Verdict: After cross-checking the claims and the response from the OLA, the MultiFactCheck (MFC) rated the claims as Misleading

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During the last days of February, social media users shared a video content on their X (formerly Twitter) and on Tiktok accounts claiming that the perpetrators who were  seen in the uniform of the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) and Federal Forces physically harassing and intimidating a young man with a knife and a gun were members of the Oromo Liberation Front-Oromo Liberation Army (OLF-OLA). 

Anteneh Shiferaw, who has close to 6000 followers on his X account, wrote: “This’s the Savagery and Barbaric act of Oromo Liberation Front [OLF]”. This specific tweet was viewed by more than 78,000 people, received hundreds of interactions, and reposted by thousands of people (see below screenshot). 

Image 1: Screenshot from Anteneh’s X account claiming the OLF-OLA harassing the young man.

This content became a potential source of mis/disinformation triggering hate speech with the allegations that the incident happened against an Amhara victim by the OLF-OLA soldiers. The content also bears slurs that have the potential of inciting or exacerbating conflicts between the Oromo and the Amhara people, the two populous ethnic groups in Ethiopia. 

Another X account holder with the name Antonio, who has more than 33,000 followers, for instance, wrote: “What has been happening in Wellega [a place in the Oromia Regional State] for years now came to the doorsteps of every Amhara.” This content was again viewed by close to 11,000 people.  

Image 2: Screenshot of Antonio’s X account claiming the victim was from an Amhara ethnic member.

Another twitter named Ras Tafari wrote that “the #Amhara people are fighting with a beast” not only today but starting “600 years ago”, which could give others the picture that the Oromo people have been ‘invaders, assimilators, and killers’. 

Image 3: Screenshot from X account holder disseminating false and demeaning content against Oromo with a video allegation.

However, the OLF-OLA issued a statement stating that the perpetrators of the physical abuse against the young man were the members of the ENDF and of the Federal Police operating in the Goro Dola district in the Guji Zone of Oromia Regional State. The statement elaborated that the victim was also found to be a young man named Ahmed Qasim Dube living in Saraansa village, which is located in the Zone. 

The OLF-OLA stated its non-engagement in the action by accusing the ENDF and the Federal Police for what it said was “inhumane treatment and barbaric act” committed by “uniformed Ethiopian security forces’. 

Such human rights violations and related atrocities in the conflict-troubled Ethiopia are not the first time. Beside these gross violations of human rights against civilians, social media users have been also manipulating such audiovisual content to fit into their narratives that exacerbate conflicts on the ground. In June 2023, for instance, similar content that happened in January 2022 in Benishangul Gumuz Regional State was shared on social media as if it happened in the Amhara Regional State against the Amhara civilians. 

In light of what was shared by X account holders and the statement issued by OLF-OLA as a response to the claimants, MFC rendered the claims as misleading.

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Ethiopian Lecturer Union (ሲተረጎም የኢትዮጵያ መምህራን ህብረት) የተባለ አንድ ግለሰብ በሌሎች ግለሰቦች የሚሰቃይበትን አሰቃቂ ቪዲዮ በማጋራት “የአማራ የዘር ማጥፋት [በአብይ አህመድ አማካይነት] በኢትዮጵያ እየተጠናከረ መሆኑን በመግለፅ መረጃውን አሰራጭቷል። ቪዲዮው አንድ ግለሰብ በሊቢያ የሕገወጥ የሰዎች አዘዋዋሪዎች እገታ ተፈፅሞበት እየተሰቃየ የሚታይበት በመሆኑ ልጥፉ ሐሰት ነው።

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MultiFactCheck

(MFC) is an independent fact-checking organization which is launched to pin-point, track-down, scrutinize, investigate, interrogate, publish and distribute the factual accuracy of claims made by public figures. MFC’s project has geographical priorities. Our work mainly focuses on nations in the Horn of Africa and their diaspora community who reside abroad. We operates from various regions of Africa, Europe and North America. Through a multitude of professional proficiency, MFC deploys best practices of journalism, scholarship and expertise in order to flag, investigate and publish a fact.

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