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News: Tragic fact behind viral photo of five youth dumped in a ditch in Western Oromia

The five youth dumped in a ditch (Photo:Social Media)

By Getahun Legesse @Birmaduu2

Addis Abeba – The photo showing five young men dumped in a ditch with their hands tied behind their backs has been widely shared on social media over the past week with misleading and inaccurate captions. Some social media users claimed the disturbing image showed youth who were killed and thrown into the ditch, while others say they were buried alive.

Addis Standard spoke to two people who are close to the matter. According to the sources, the incident happened in Qilxu Karra town of Qilxu Karra district in West Wollega Zone, Western Oromia.

The five young men seen in the photo are residents of Qilxu Karra town are Obsi Dinagde, Tesfaye Terfasa, Iyassu Kassahun, Abebe Dhufera and Dessalegn Bulcha.

Around two weeks ago, they were detained by government forces on allegations of having links with the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) and were taken to a military camp stationed in the town near the Qilxu Karra secondary school.

Last week, their photo, which is blurred by Addis Standard, was released through social media by what the sources believe were local security forces.

A resident of Qilxu Karra town and one of the two witnesses who spoke to Addis Standard on conditions of anonymity said, Obsi Dinagde, one of the five youth with whom the source has family relations was hospitalized following a “severe assault and torture” inflicted on the five victims after their detention. 

They were able to speak to the victim while he was in a hospital and learned that the five victims were made to suffer in the ditch day and night for several days, blindfolded and their hands tied behind their back. They ere also forced to dig the ditch where they were left for days.

The source added that four days after Obsi recovered and was discharged from the hospital, local security forces took him back to a nearby military camp last week.

A second witness, who is a friend of one of the victims, and who also spoke on conditions of anonymity for fear of their safety, said that the victims “barely differentiate day and night as they were blindfolded” for days.

It is believed that they remain detained by the security, however their current circumstances is not known. “If they are still in the ditch they all certainly are ill and may need medical treatment,” the source said indicating that the location was the ditch is unknown.

The families were disallowed from visiting them in the military camp where they were supposed to be after their detention, and they know little about what is happening to them apart from handing food over to the security guards on a daily basis.

Addis Standard did not independently corroborate the witnesses’ claims. Local authorities and military leaders were unreachable for comments.

In June Addis Standard reported about surging incidents where government security forces commit atrocities on record over the past years in the context of ongoing militarized conflicts in different parts of the country. AS

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