Group seeks support to ban use of music as torture

Tue May 19, 2009 5:56pm EDT
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By Claudia Parsons

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Human rights activists seeking a ban on the use of loud music to exert psychological pressure on detainees in U.S. custody are appealing to Bruce Springsteen and Eminem to join their campaign against music as torture.

The campaign called the Zero dB project, standing for zero decibels, was launched at the end of last year by British legal charity Reprieve, which represents dozens of prisoners held at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

It has already signed up British artists including David Gray, Dizzee Rascal and Massive Attack and is now setting its sights on American musicians, said Chloe Davies, a representative of Reprieve and Zero dB.

At a recent "Music and Torture" conference near New York, Davies described the experience of several former detainees including Binyam Mohamed, an Ethiopian who moved to Britain as a teenager. He was released from Guantanamo in February after nearly seven years in U.S. and Moroccan custody.

During interrogations in Morocco, Mohamed reported being physically tortured, including having his penis repeatedly cut with a scalpel, yet he said what he found hardest was having loud music blasted at him in the dark for days on end.

"After a while, I felt pretty much dead, I didn't feel I existed at all," Davies quoted Mohamed as saying.

Another former detainee, Rhuhel Ahmed, thought initially it was a joke when his captors played rapper Eminem's music, Davies said.

"But after so long, when he started to hallucinate, he said he got why they were doing it," she said, quoting Ahmed as saying, "The music torture stripped away the last sanctuary you had in your mind."   Continued...