Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Broken Onion

I never thought my happiness and well-being would one day depend upon a small green onion.

For those of you who are still not familiar, it is an application, which will allow you to access the Internet using an IP address being bounced back and forth within the community. The project called TOR (http://www.torproject.org) was started to help people in areas of heavy network surveillance to get round the firewalls and communicate to the outside world. The network relay is constructed by volunteers who donate certain bandwith and leave their computers on just for the purpose of helping people in places like China and Iran. The icon of the software takes on a form of an onion, which quickly become a must-have household item in many Chinese homes.

Today, life in China is described and distinguished as inside and outside the Great Fire Wall. Often times for a very simple research type of question, I am forced to turn on the little green onion and climb over to the other side of the Wall. That is not at all sensitive information, but merely things like an artist showing me some images on flicker or a video on youtube.

A certain number of this vast population has become very good at climbing this GFW; and encountering a friend on the other side of the wall is also like meeting an old friend embraced in sunshine.

This morning, as I open my computer, I found a broken onion, left me in the complete darkness. Especially after the brief demonstration on Chang’An Road yesterday carried out by Aiweiwei and some artist friends from my village, I was dying to find out the follow up stories.

Being over 2500 kilometers away from Beijing, and heartbroken from the pictures I received the night before of a real attack to our village held by local mafia, I couldn’t help but burst into tears, quiet certain that the government shut down the Onion; and I could only imagine what happened to those people. After all, a demonstration with no application can easily throw you into jail.

After a reboot of the computer, my dear onion magically revived itself. I am now back into my daily life maybe not described as happily but rather willingly.

In writing down these words, I hope that all of you who live in a normal world outside the Great Fire Wall would consider becoming a relay to the TOR Project. As the government is constantly closing know IPs, which are used as bridges. You have no idea how much we depend on your willingness to help. Please refer to details on the Tor website.


Feel free also to forward this email to your friends who might be able to help.

Many Thanks,

On behalf of a large population who live on a little onion on the other side of the WALL.