Pull The Plug on Torture Music

Here, former Guantanamo prisoner Ruhal Ahmed describes his experience of being tortured by earsplitting music in the hands of the US authorities.

Reprieve launched an new initiative called Pull the Plug – to expose and stop the use of torture music against prisoners of the ‘war on terror.’

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One of the most startling aspects of musical culture in the post-Cold War US is the systematic use of music as a weapon of war. First coming to mainstream attention in 1989, when US troops blared loud music in an effort to induce Panamanian president Manuel Norriega’s surrender, the use of “acoustic bombardment” has become standard practice on the battlefields of Iraq, and specifically musical bombardment has joined sensory deprivation and sexual humiliation as among the non-lethal means by which prisoners from Abu Ghraib to Guantanamo may be coerced to yield their secrets without violating US law.

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Information:

Zero dB – stop music torture
Reprieve’s innovative ‘silent protest’ zero dB aims to stop music torture by encouraging widespread condemnation of its use within the US secret prison network. Ear splitting music played for days on end: this is modern torture. While leaving no marks on the body the devastation wrecked on the mind can last a lifetime, with many of its victims suffering mental breakdowns. Read full article >

Torture chamber music
David Gray has lambasted American interrogators for allegedly using his music to help extract information from internees in Iraq. Why might his music be chosen and what effect on prisoners is music meant to achieve?

This is not the first we’ve heard of familiar recordings being used in the “war on terror” – in 2003, Rick Hoffman, a veteran of US psy-ops – “psychological operations” – talked to the BBC about the use of tunes from Sesame Street and Barney The Dinosaur to break the will of Iraqi captives.
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