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.
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)
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:
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.”
Source: Ethiopian News Agency (ENA)
Survivors and families of victims still waiting for justice
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