These graphic images were surreptitiously taken from the phone of an Ethiopian soldier still serving in Tigray. These are images that he took of atrocities that he took part in. They are trophies.
We struggled long and hard about the utility of sharing these images with the world. Why are we sharing them? Are they not too graphic for most? They are indeed very graphic. Do we risk over-exposing our audience and desensitizing people? That too is a possibility. What do we owe to the victims and their families? How do we honor and remember them best? These are questions that can have many different answers, none completely satisfying.
We have decided to share these pictures in full awareness of these questions because there is a story behind them that needs to be told. And this is a story of the impunity that has allowed a soldier not only to take part in these atrocities but to take images, and save them casually on his phone where they could be found. It is this impunity – this certainty that documenting crimes as graphic as these will bring no accountability that these images attest to. We may no longer be surprised by the barbarity, the hate, and the cruelty that drives such actions – after all in a short six months we have cataloged more horrors than we could have conceived off in our worst nightmares. What remains unbelievable is that the impunity has thus far been justified and there is little hope that it will not continue to be justified as the world remains satisfied with recording and expressing concern as crimes against humanity multiply by the day.
The first set of images here reveal a group of soldiers, in Ethiopian National Defence Force uniforms, posing with a civilian victim shot through the head. We have divided these images into two. The first set in the presentation below reveals the faces of the soldiers and the second set are very graphic close-ups of their victim.
These are close-ups of the victim. The image at the center shows the soldier in the dark blue vest giving the corpse of his victim the middle finger. The third image has words written over it that roughly translated read “a Woyane (Tigrayan) looks good dead” or “a dead Woyane is good to look at.”
Based on similarities with previous images we believe that this next set of photos are from the Debre Abay massacre suggesting that the soldier from whom these images were obtained took part in those killings.
This final set of images we have labelled uncategorized because we cannot determine when or where they were taken.