Since September 1, 2000, when this website was launched operating on a shoestring budget, we have been battling the ill-wishes of the PFDJ and its choir, as well as the random attacks from hackers who do that for a hobby. In many ways, it is a lot like battling fires set by mischievous kids or malicious adults: the motivation is different, but the end result is the same. One of the things we strive to be is the un-PFDJ: to inform, when the PFDJ’s modus operandi is to hide; to inspire and embolden Eritreans, when the PFDJ’s methodology is to sell fear and intimidation; to show Eritreans in all their diverse identity: history culture and values, an alternative to the PFDJ’s vision of uniformity and submission to a dominant culture. And the one thing that the PFDJ is famous for is its sickening paranoia so, in our attempt to be the un-PFDJ, we have not shared with you the many times we were given cause to be paranoid because we don’t want to even sound like them.
Prior to September 1, 2001, the “visionary” Eritrean regime was in the stone age: it didn’t even have a website. So as Gedab News broke one damaging news after another about the PFDJ’s criminality, they had no response other than to attempt to shut us down or to disseminate to their “community organizations” the message that we had to be destroyed (as an institution and as individuals.) When it emerged out of its stone age and launched shaebia.org in 2001 (courtesy of the administrators of dehai.org), their website, in its inaugural issue (September 1, 2001) broke the “news” that the G-15 (who had, under the name selfi-democracy, launched a website called Eritrea1.org on May 24, 2001) had met in New York, NY on August 18, 2001. After the usual accusations of treason, sabotage, etc, shaebia had this to say about us:
“In regard to media work, the decision was taken to start a web-site, under the name ‘Eritrea1.org’. Participants were informed that Awate.com had proposed that the two web-sites pool their resources and oprate as a single outlet, but the G-15 felt that that would be giving Awate importance that it did not deserve. It was pointed out that Awate had gained “popularity” only because it had been fed with constant information by the G-15.”
Besides the laughable claim that a by-then well-established website (awate.com) would merge itself into an upstart website (eritrea1.org, now long-deceased) with no content, the implication was that awate.com would soon collapse and its Gedab News, starved of sources, would just wither. The PFDJ, which is best characterized by its unique ability to make outrageously inaccurate predictions, has been predicting for the last 11 years that we were on our last legs. But, through the years, as we changed hosts, website administrators, and conducted four complete redesigns, we never had a down-time that lasted more than a few hours. Because we didn’t want to succumb to PFDJ’s paranoia we always accused the technology, or our lack of expertise on the subject, and we moved on.
Until Friday, December 2, 2011.
This website was down from the afternoon of December 2, 2011 through the evening of December 6, 2011. That is 4 days, an eternity in the news and information dissemination business. During those days, we were repeatedly hacked, viruses were planted, and files damaged. Someone, some entity, tried to wipe out our system. The good news is that we lost nothing that can’t be reproduced. The even better news is that this actually motivates us even more to stick to our mission: inform, inspire, embolden, reconcile. The best news is that, for a new/information outlet that believes in the universal right of self-defense and fighting back, this aligns us with bigger organizations who are very good at slapping those who want to muzzle people’s right to free expression.
We are back.