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Censorship Before UN Raid, Camera Shoved in Face, FUNCA on the Case

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 30 -- While the UN's raid on Inner City Press' office on March 18 was extreme, in that while Inner City Press was never notified other were allowed to photograph, including Pamela Falk of CBS, the president of UNCA and now it appears other UNCA “leaders,” there have been other UN crackdowns on the media.

  We have reported on photographs being ordered to be deleted inside the UN's Headquarters in New York. Even when raised by the Free UN Coalition for Access to the Department of Public Information, the only response has been DPI's Stephane Dujarric communicating to Aramark, the UN's cafeteria and tent contractor.

  Since the March 18 raid, FUNCA has been contacted by another photographer, Orin Langelle, about being roughed up by security the UNFCCC meeting in Durban: an “officer shoved my camera into my face to prevent me from documenting the detention and expulsion of a UN-accredited delegate that occurred on 8 December 2011.”

  Langelle wrote in, “Dear colleagues at Inner City Press, yesterday, it was brought to my attention the actions taken by the UN in invading your office. I am not a bit surprised. I am providing some links concerning an assault on me while I was on assignment for Z Magazine during the 2011 UN climate conference (UNFCCC) in Durban, South Africa. I find that the UN security and UN officials operate without any principles that the UN is supposed to uphold regarding the rights of media.”

The links largely speak for themselves. Langelle adds, that “on 9 December 2011, I witnessed members of the media being shoved up a staircase to prevent them from reporting the actions of UN security who were ejecting people protesting the failing negotiations near a high level plenary room. Shoving the media, or anyone for that matter, up a staircase is dangerous and people could have been injured. That was clearly an act of censorship and reckless endangerment by UN security.”

FUNCA's perspective is that the responsibility goes above the security or DSS officers. For the March 18, 2013, raid they were called in by the Department of Public Information. And DPI up to the highest level has so far refused to provide basic information: who did they let into the office, who took photographs and to whom did they give them? We will continue on this.

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