Assaulted photographer accuses UN of cover-up

Note: Global Justice Ecology Project board chair and photojournalist Orin Langelle is continuing his pursual of justice and accountability from the UN regarding the irresponsible actions of their security guards during the climate convention in Durban, South Africa.  UN security have been reacting to journalists and civil society observers in increasingly hostile ways, and Langelle is intent on holding them accountable so that the UN repression of the truth will not continue.

For more background please see Orin Langelle’s Formal Complaint Against UN Security and the response Langelle received from John Hay, UN Media Relations Officer UN denies security used undue force when smashing camera into photographer’s face] -The GJEP Team

7 February 2012

John Hay, Media Relations Officer

c/o Elke Hoekstra, Staff Assistant, Communications & Knowledge Management

United Nations Framework Conference on Climate Change

Martin-Luther-King-Strasse 8-53175 Bonn-Germany


Dear Mr. Hay,

By now you have received an official statement from Kevin Buckland, a witness to the scene I described in my official complaint on 16 December 2011.  As you can see from Mr. Buckland’s letter, he confirms that undue force was used on me during the incident in which an unidentified UN security guard smashed my camera into my face without a warning.  He is not the only witness.

I received an email last night from another witness to the event who said,  “I followed Kevin [Buckland] and the security guard with a flip-cam, videoing from behind and to the side, then moving to about a ‘3 oclock’ position to them to get a better face shot.  At this point the security guard saw me, made a 90 degree turn, strode over and literally had to yank it out of my hand, because I said ‘you’ve given me no warning’ and held tight to the camera.  After grabbing it and beginning to walk away, I pointed out that other folks were also photographing and videoing- so why the random application of this rule?  … said guard immediately stopped, scanned around, then bee-lined for [another witness], grabbed his camera, and then turned back towards the security/UN station/room…Yes, they erased the video of the incident, and I believe erased [the other person’s] as well.”

I will continue to pursue this matter as your response on 2 February 2012 to my official complaint is unacceptable and is devoid of the facts despite your investigation. How did you conduct the investigation? How did you come to the conclusion that undue force was not used on me?  Who provided the information to you regarding the incident in question?

Facts are facts and it is my duty as a journalist to report the truth.  What is occurring now is a concealment of those facts by either yourself or the investigators of the incident, or is false testimony by UN security.

Whoever is responsible, it is clear that the United Nations is officially and explicitly engaged in a cover-up.

I formally request further action on this matter.

Furthermore, how do I file official charges of the assault by a member of the UN security that could have resulted in great bodily harm to me?

This is a very serious matter that concerns not only me, but all journalists and people who believe in the right to document and report the truth.

I find your response an insult to me and to all that seek justice.


Orin Langelle

International Federation of Journalists                          Card Nr.  U S 1198

National Writers Union (UAW Local 1981/AFL-CIO)  ID#83303

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