How To Visit The Klingon Empire With Honor (And Without Getting Killed)

August 13, 2014 by  
Filed under Security, Travel

This post is part of Geek Takeover Week 2014.

klingon female with batleth

tlhIngan wo’ yajbe’ wa’ ‘ej Qo’noS DIvI’ nep vo’ moj yor galactic ghoch Hov trek wa’. Human nuqneH maH juH Dachegh yuQmey Hem nugh, qatlh qach SuvwI’ tlhIngan SIQpu’bogh. pagh wej maHvaD nIS, tIgh, conform pIH pagh nIS comfort ma’. wo’ ngeD wej nov HochHom ‘ach wej jegh laH SuyItHa’ moj maHvaD motlhjaj ghu’vam Huj lurDech je mIw vaj tlhIngan tIq.

Ha’, ‘ach not naQ lutDaj, ghogh Huv

“Klingons don’t embrace other cultures, we conquer them.”
-General Martok Deep Space

Nineincessant malja’ mu’ “please” ‘ej “thank you'” wej chergh SuvwI’ law’ wej qaSpu’bogh nIv’e’, chaH qaStaHvIS tlhIngan Hol. jatlh tlhIngan, manajtaHvIS qaStaHvIS HoS jachpu’DI’, confident ghogh. latlh vuv ‘ach wej qI’ weakness pagh cha’ pagh decisions ‘oH defer. laH Dev vIq tIch botlhDaq pa”e’ surely wej taH SoH. wej DanoHmeH tlhInganpu’ nov vaj qaSmoHlu’ chaHvaD waH vuDmey’e’ HoS. reH yIQam ‘ach not naQ lutDaj, poStaHvIS petaQ mIn contact leH, wuv yInlIj ‘oH.

tlhIngan qub jablu’DI’ yIn

Ha’ Hutlh sustenance wutlh yoHbogh outside of tlhIngan wo’ qo’ pIj qaq Heghpu’ flesh, lo’ law’ qaStaHvIS DIvI’ replicated, Sop. Soj vaj alive HeghDI’ QIchlIj Hot ‘oH until Ho’Du’ jej yIHoH.

‘op potlhmeyDaq nay’ qaSnISbej ‘e’ nID SoH HeghDI’ jIghIQ:

  • GaghtlhIngan Soj, ghargh Durgh le vIraknIl ghargh je.
  • RaktijinotlhIngan qa’vIn HoS law’ Human ‘ejDo’ nIn HoS.
  • Blood Wine (‘Iw HIq) – rogh targh (a Klingon hog) ‘Iw HoS law’ raktijino HoS.
  • Rachtnagh gagh ‘ach Huch law’ weghbogh ghargh.

roD ‘ach mach wIv, naQ leng ghung slop rep SoH offers ‘ach vaj roD, pagh burgh SoH qub, nuq tlhIngan Soj jach SoH juHqo’.

qeq ‘e’ tlhop

qaSchoH latlh HochHom cultures infinitely pagh tun law’ tun tlhIngan culture, HochHom vIrurqu’law’ ‘ut ‘emvo’ wo’ Qu’ bImejnIS. wej yIt streets Qo’noS Hutlh qaSlaH d’k tahg – a warriors knife. wa’ qeng proudly wej neH wIqelDI’, maHeDnIS tlhIngan nugh tob ‘ach chaq SoH pol vo’ qaDta’bogh pong latlhpu’ qogh. naH jajmeymaj HochHom tlhInganpu’ ghob chaH ‘emvo’ ngoq batlh ‘ej QuQ roj poQ vaj nI’ law’ leH batlh ‘e’ SuvwI’.

Finally, it’s important you learn some of the local language before heading anywhere in the Klingon Empire. Pick up a Klingon dictionary, Rosetta Stone for Klingon, and use Bing’s Klingon translator for this page (though Kronos gets converted into “Denmark“), which you can use to decipher this post. Qa’plah!

What Donetsk, Ukraine Looked Like Right Before Civil War

Huddled with a group of journalists a few hours after returning from Ukraine’s eastern border with Russia, I’ll never forget one of them saying in a dead serious voice, “shit’s about to blow up here.” I couldn’t help but agree in what was my last night in Donetsk, where I spent several weeks, watching tensions rise as pro-Russian demonstrations became more frequent and fervent.

Shortly after I took off from Donetsk Sergey Prokofiev International Airport separatists took it over in violent clashes killing 30 people. Though it’s easy to see the blaze that is the current situation in eastern Ukraine now, protests looked like small sparks at the time in what was a charmingly inviting city of 950,000 people.

donetsk holy transfiguration church  Holy Transfiguration Cathedral Donetsk ukraine

Saturday evenings are the busiest inside the Eastern Orthodox Holy Transfiguration Cathedral but Sunday’s were the day for protest. Tending to have a ritualistic path, protests almost always began late mornings in front of the regional department building of Ukraine’s Security Service.

Though no matter how loud or large the demonstrations became (at their biggest I estimate around 2,000-4,000 people) you would never have noticed walking among the creations of the Park of Forged Figures less than a kilometer away.

Slowly increasing numbers in preparation for protestors to arrive sometime mid-afternoon, Donetsk’s police force waits patiently in front of the Provincial Administration Building. Despite angry crowds, police were careful not to resist, often making way to allow unhindered access for mobs who forced entry into government buildings.

On several occasions (the same) small group of young protestors clumsily took down Ukrainian flags in front of government buildings, replacing them with Russia‘s white, blue, and red as journalists carefully recorded events unfolding.

Once the crowds had made their point facing the Provincial Administration Building, they would take a slow 10 minute march to the city’s main rallying point for pro-Russia activists, Lenin Square.

Although their numbers dwindled quickly, microphones and speakers amplified the decidedly older remaining crowds.

As hunger began to set in, those carrying Soviet flags didn’t let irony keep them from enjoying a meal at the McDonald’s next to Lenin Square.

A memorial dedicated to a pro-Ukrainian protestor killed in clashes on March 13, 2014.

Less for shopping and more for strolling, spring weather brought many locals to Donetsk’s popular Pushkin Boulevard, where there was never a sign of the surrounding unrest.

Smiles on their faces, medical staff understandably seem content to have little to do in mostly peaceful Lenin Square gatherings.

Teenage love accompanied by the sounds of amateur guitar, floating alongside the scent of kebabs being sold by Syrian immigrants feign harmony along the shores of Donetsk’s Kalmius River.

Taking one moment to admire a peaceful sunset.

In many ways, Donetsk appeared to be in a much better state than Kiev did as revolution simmered there but looks can be incredibly deceiving since it’s safe to travel to Kiev right now while Donetsk has become virtually inaccessible. Given the pervasive normalcy plus relatively small percentage of Donetsk’s population actually marching on the streets, I optimistically held on to hope that the city wouldn’t attempt an all out separation from the rest of Ukraine. In hindsight, as I witnessed when traveling before and behind the protests in Bahrain, Donetsk had enough uncertainty to ensure any imported instability would be a catalyst for chaos.

What To Expect If You’re Detained By Turkish Police During A Demonstration

June 10, 2014 by  
Filed under Advice, Security, Travel Journal

ankara protests gezi park anniversary

This past weekend I was detained and taken into custody by Turkish police near Ankara’s Kizilay Square, a few blocks away from my family’s apartment on the 1 year anniversary of the 2013 Gezi Park protests. The most dangerous weapon I was in possession of was a Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS 10 camera and while Article 34 of the Turkish Constitution allows peaceful demonstrations to be held without prior permission, 118 people including myself were rounded up in Ankara.

My 8 hour detention gave me a firsthand look into a dangerous process that has become disturbingly routine in Turkey for citizens and foreigners alike. Such demonstrations tend to occur in busy areas travelers are likely to frequent, like Istanbul’s Taksim Square, and the risk of death is very real. Police have fatally shot demonstrators in the head, killed 15 year old Berkin Elvan by firing a tear gas canister at his head, and been so brazen that even Prime Minister Recep Erdogan has been videoed punching a protestor.

You are seriously risking abuse, injury, or death by a police force that often travels in gangs, both in uniform and plain-clothed, arresting and beating people at will if they are found anywhere near a demonstration. Take caution to avoid protests but in case you can’t or decide to be a one-person media outlet, this is what to expect and how to prepare.

Your Passport Won’t Matter

The first parts of such an ordeal will generally be the same whether you’re a Turkish citizen like me or a foreign national. Your nationality won’t provide you any protection as CNN’s Ivan Watson recently demonstrated by being detained while giving a live report from Istanbul.

Police often implement a similar tactic of crowd and pounce on civilians near a demonstration. They’ll typically set up lines of provocation in disproportionate numbers, attempting to block the movement of demonstrating groups. Multiple tear gas canisters will be at best, shot above demonstrators, at worst, directly at them, causing stampedes, as police rush forward before quickly retreating back to their original line.

turkish riot police ankara

As all of this goes on, smaller groups of about 20 police run around side streets with batons waving in a government sanctioned meet and greet. These scenes are repeated several more times while police stealthily position themselves around protestors. The rush and retreats seem designed to desensitize everyone so when they finally do come, you’re caught off guard. Many of those detained are random targets although a number seem to have been carefully picked out in advance.

The Arrest Is The Most Dangerous Point

turkey protests tear gas ankara

The moment in which police, usually in teams of 5-10, take you under arrest is the most dangerous for you physically. The amount of tear gas fired makes seeing beyond a few meters very difficult; within a few seconds to minutes the gas begins to suffocate your disoriented body. You’ll be yelled at and may be accused of having weapons or committing crimes in a threatening manner. Verbal taunting is nearly guaranteed but within the chaos there are other abuses. Ten minutes after I was tied in plastic handcuffs, a police officer sprayed me point blank with pepper spray. Given what others endured that evening, I was very fortunate to not have suffered any major physical injury.

Do not speak with police beyond giving them your identity and nationality if asked. Try to remain calm as many of the young, agitated police are a wrong gesture away from becoming violent.

Your First Stop Is Hospital

After you are apprehended, you’ll eventually be escorted to a police car that will take you to a local hospital. During the ride police will likely ask you more questions, make accusations, and incite fear by mentioning punishments. Fortunately, over 100 volunteer lawyers from groups like the Cagdas Hukukcular Dernegi (“Progressive Lawyers Association“) will be waiting for you at the hospital to tell you the truth while providing council. Photos of any injuries – another good reason to never travel without insurance – will be taken and documented by the group of lawyers.

ankara turkey protests

The volunteer lawyers work without pay to defend and inform you of your rights, answer any questions, and contact family members. In the case of foreign nationals, they will get in touch with the appropriate embassy. Many will know English but for those not confident speaking  the language, it’s in your best interest to let the lawyers know right away so they can make arrangements for a translator to be present.

Then, depending on the total number of people detained, you’re going to wait around to see a nurse that will take a health report. Let them know of any physical harm you’ve come under before they breathalyze you. (It’s not illegal to drink alcohol in Turkey or be drunk; this test is standard for anyone taken into custody.)

Now To The Police Station

ankara turkey gezi protests

Just as the situation begins calming down at the hospital, you’re moved to a police station where your identification is again processed. Keep in mind questions will continue to be asked about any and all things – from religion to politics to what you were doing at the time of your arrest. Under Turkish law, you aren’t obligated to say anything other than information pertaining to your identity. Take a page out of The Art Of War: be brief and don’t volunteer information.

All of the belongings on your person, like mobile phone, which you’ve had access to this entire time will be confiscated. The police will carefully document every item in your wallet, pockets, jewelry, plus your shoelaces before taking them. You get to keep any cash before signing a document verifying what you just handed over. Now, it’s starting to feel more like jail.

Men and women are all processed separately but in any event you’ll get to spend a few hours sitting in a holding room with members of the same sex.

Briefing Before Statement

ankara gezi protests

Eventually it will be time for everyone to be moved to another part of the building to give statements. Prior to the questions, a group of the lawyers who were previously at the hospital will give you a briefing, so you know what to expect. They’ll give you advice on statement semantics, not leaving your side until police document what you have to say.

<Insert a lot more waiting around here.>

Now, you’re going back to the hospital for one more check up (to make sure the police didn’t abuse you at the station basically). Some more documenting and under most circumstances if you weren’t causing damage or harming others, you’re released… unless you’re not a Turkish citizen.

  • Next, What Happens If You’re Not A Turkish Citizen – After all of the above, you’ll be sent to a special police processing center for foreigners. After some time there plus a few days, chances of your deportation are fairly good.

Hours After The Hours Of Release

Anything that’s been confiscated is returned, whether you’re a Turk or foreigner, as the first night of detention is nearly over. Assuming you haven’t actually committed a crime (e.g. vandalism), you’re either released or deported. (In the case of the latter, that process can take several days.) Although I can’t speak to the specifics after this point, for all detainees, the state prosecutors may try to open a case against you.

sık bakalım

The first night however has ended and as the sun begins to light the sky, dawn awakens you to the fact that none of this should have happened at all. Since it has, you realize everything could have been done in an hour if the powers that be had been bothered not to make every step along the way as inconvenient as possible.

Ask Expert Zulfiqar Rashid Exactly How Organized Child Beggary Works And What Travelers Can Do To Prevent It

June 3, 2014 by  
Filed under Culture, Discussion, Money, Security

zulfiqar rashidDuring our travels many of us have been confronted by young children begging for money, knowing on some basic level the cash they receive doesn’t stay in their pockets. Most travelers don’t contribute for this reason, despite wanting to help kids who are clearly living in extreme poverty. Unfortunately this system of child abuse goes deeper than many of us could imagine. My live chat guest today will answer your questions on the economy of forced begging, the process of child binding, and what you should do the next time a small palm asking for change is extended in your direction.

Zulfiqar Rashid was born in Lahore, Pakistan, and spent the first eighteen years of his life in Pakistan and France. He is the author of The Rat-Boys of Karalabad, a book based on the system of organized beggary, which is a deep-rooted part of society in Southeast Asia.

Leave your questions for Zulfiqar in the comments below. He’ll be by later today, Tuesday June 3rd from 10:30pm-1:30am US EST to answer them live.

Zulfiqar will be here for a few hours this evening to answer any questions you have about organized begging. Don’t be shy to ask things you think you should already know as we all benefit from learning where our assumptions meet reality.

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