Video broadcast by Tigray Media House (TMH) on 24 May 2021 shows family members and residents of Mahbere Dego put whatever was left of the remains of their loved ones in bags before burying the remains in the local church. Hyenas and dogs had scavenged on corpses. Family members say Ethiopian forces forbade them from burying the dead for almost five months. By the time Ethiopian forces decided to leave the area, they set some of the corpses on fire with the intention of destroying evidence.
Names of some of the victims of the Mahbere Dego Massacre. | Credit: Fitwi Desta
“ኣብዘን ቪድዮታት ብውሕዱ ናይ 15 ሰባት ኣስከሬን ይርኣይ” ቢቢሲ ኣፍሪቃ ኣይ ብዛዕባ እቲ ኣብ ትግራይ ማሕበረ ዴጎ ብወተሃደራት ኢትዮጵያ ዝተፈጸመ ጃምላዊ ቅትለት መረጋገጺ ረኺብሉ BBC News Tigrinya | 5 April 2021
An investigation by BBC Africa Eye uncovered evidence that a massacre in Tigray was carried out by members of the Ethiopian military. It also reveals the precise location of the atrocity. | By Africa Eye, BBC World Service | 1 April 2021
Shedding Light On A Clifftop Massacre In Ethiopia | “For the first time, we’ve located the precise spot of a recent mass killing of civilians in Tigray based on videos that surfaced online this month.” Bellingcat + Newsy | Source: Scripps News | 1 April 2021
How a massacre in Tigray was captured on video | CNN report on Mahbere Dego Massacre | 2 April 2021
New video of Ethiopia massacre shows soldiers passing phone around to document their executions of unarmed men | CNN report | 28 June 2021 Documentary on Mahbere Dego Massacre | Watch full video: Ethiopia: Chronicle of a Massacre I Documentary | 4 Oct 2022
Video showing members of the Ethiopian army’s 25th division, led by Lt. Gen. Belay Zewdu, round up and lead Tigrayan youth from Mahbere Dego to a cliff’s edge where they would execute them all one by one.

In a video filmed by Sitotaw Alemayehu, a member of the ENDF’s 25th division, Ethiopian army soldiers can be seen passing phone around to document their execution of unarmed men.

Sitotaw Alemayehu (a.k.a Fafi) filmed the massacre of unarmed youth at Mahbere Dego, Tigray. Sitotaw later admitted that he not just filmed but also participated directly in the brutal massacre.

My name is Sitotaw Alemayehu. I was the camera man for the first Brigade of the 25th Division of the Ethiopian National Defence Forces (ENDF). I was there when the Mahbere Dego massacre happened. The massacre was committed by the 25th Division (of the ENDF). The commander of the Division then was Colonel Suffian. By my count, 43 people were killed. The order to kill them came from Colonel Suffian. He told Captain Tamrat, the Division’s head of operations, to execute the order. The head of our Brigade, Colonel Tesfaye Birkessa, was also involved in the execution of the order. Initially, we were sitting round a mortar that our Division owned, protecting it from the enemy. Then the people whom were destined to be killed were brought from a place far away from where we were sitting. He said that he wanted the female soliders to be involved to help with their resolve. After that, Colonel Suffian ordered me to film everything that would follow.  He said that a video recording of the executions would be useful at a later time. Accordingly, I filmed as the personal guards of Colonel Suffian, men and women, shot the people to death. That is how it was filmed. I don’t think anyone involved in the shooting is with us here today.  Neither those who ordered the massacre nor those who executed it are here. I think about half of them were killed in the Yechila Operation (by the TDF). I do not know what happened to the other half. We were scattered around at that time (during the operation) and we did not get a chance to regroup before we were captured by the TDF. I am certain that a lot of atrocities more brutal and cruel than the one I filmed will have been committed against Tigrayans. Tigray has been wronged.  We are now asking the people of Tigray for forgiveness.

Sitotaw Alemayehu, member of ENDF’s 25th Division (Translation by TGHAT)
Sitotaw Alemayehu said the massacre was carried by members of the ENDF’s 25th Division. It was later reported by Tigray-based media outlet, Dimtsi Weyane, that Sitotaw Alemayehu admitted that he not just filmed the video but also participated directly in the mass killing of unarmed civilians at Mahbere Dego.
Sitotaw Alemayehu admitted that he, beyond filming the video, participated directly in the massacre of youth at Mahbere Dego, Tigray.

ጨፍጫፍ ንፁሃን ተጋሩ መናእሰይ ማሕበረ ዴጎ ዘርኢ ምስሊ ቪድዮ ከመይ ካብ መንጋጋ ፀላኢ ብሜላ ተመንዚዑ ናብ ዓለም ከምዝተቃልሐ ዝዝንቱ መደብ

ጨፍጫፍ ንፁሃን ተጋሩ መናእሰይ ማሕበረ ዴጎ ዘርኢ ምስሊ ቪድዮ ከመይ ካብ መንጋጋ ፀላኢ ብሜላ ተመንዚዑ ናብ ዓለም ከምዝተቃልሐ ዝዝንቱ መደብ

ENDF denies responsibility for the massacre

On 9th April 2021, Ethiopian state-media (EBC) broadcast a video titled ‘TPLF Shamming the Global Media’ in which the ENDF’s Maj. Gen. Mohammed Tessema and Brig. Gen. Kuma Mideksa denied the accusation that Ethiopian government soldiers massacred civilians at Mahbere Dego in Tigray.

On 8th April 2021, in a video shared on the Ethiopian News Agency’s Facebook page, ENDF’s head of Indoctrination & PR Division, Maj. Gen. Mohammed Tessema, denied the accusations and responded with wild claims without any substantial evidence to counteract the forensic investigations done the BBC Africa Eye, Bellingcat, Newsy, CNN, and Amnesty.

They [the TPLF] have intensified killings of civilians in Tigray. The killings of people they belong to continue. The network is already carrying out acts of violence against the people in all parts of the country … For the sake of political consumption these forces massacred their own people. This dead organization has done a very bad job of sabotage against the people by filming the persons they massacred and disseminated them through the international media to get the government condemned world wide … They collected by assembling acts by three different actors at different places to finally doctor the drama through which they created outcry manipulating the world media as if the defense force had massacred TPLF militants.

Maj. Gen. Mohammed Tessema, ENDF’s head of Indoctrination & PR Division

Aliaume Leroy, Investigative Producer/Director with BBCEyeInvestigations, had this to say regarding Maj. Gen. Mohammed Tessema’s statement:

Maj. Gen. Mohammed Tessema, ENDF’s head of Indoctrination & PR Division, responding to media reports of the Mahbere Dego Massacre | ‘የመከላከያ ኢንዶክትሪኔሽን ዋና ዳይሬክተር ሜጀር ጄኔራል መሐመድ ተሰማ በወቅታዊ ጉዳይ ዙሪያ የሰጡት መግለጫ’ Ethiopian News Agency (ENA), 8 April, 2021

The ICHREE cited Mahbere Dego as one of several large-scale killing incidents in Tigray and Oromia meriting further investigation.

Family members and relatives bury the remains of their loved ones brutally murdered by the Ethiopian military at Mahbere Dego.

Residents began to assume their missing relatives were dead when, over the course of several days and weeks, an unusually large number of cats, dogs, hyenas and vultures were seen on the edge of town, feasting on what appeared to be bones and other human remains.

“They learned about the fate of our boys in the cruelest and most demeaning way possible,” Birikti said. “Murdering the innocent wasn’t enough; the soldiers left them to be chewed and eaten.”

“They made sure they died in the most undignified manner possible. Inhumanity doesn’t begin to describe this. They even denied us the chance to properly bury them.”

Read more: The UN’s Purblind Human Rights Reporting in Ethiopia

Source: Ethiopian News Agency (ENA)

Survivors and families of victims still waiting for justice

Survivors and families of victims still waiting for justice (Video source/credit: Wushatena Media)

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