Post uses photo from Ethiopia’s Tigray war to claim rebels recently surrendered in Amhara

Misinformation surrounding the ongoing armed conflict in Ethiopia's troubled Amhara region is rife, with supporters of both the government and rebels claiming victories over one another. A photo shared on Facebook allegedly shows Amhara rebels who surrendered to the Ethiopian army. However, this is misleading: the photo shows rebels surrendering, but in the Tigray region during the regional war that ended 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. 

Screenshot of the misleading post, taken on May 29, 2024 

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.

Screenshot of the original photo by FBC, taken on May 29, 2024

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

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