64 online
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 8 Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 7/17/09

Musicians Ask Obama to Ban Music Torture

By       (Page 1 of 1 pages)   3 comments
Follow Me on Twitter     Message Mary Shaw
Become a Fan
  (20 fans)
A few years ago, British attorney Clive Stafford Smith spoke at an Amnesty International conference that I attended. Smith represents some Guantanamo prisoners, and he shared their horrible stories with us.

One chilling example is the story of his client Binyam Mohem, a Londoner who has since been released from Guantanamo:

"They hung me up. I was allowed a few hours of sleep on the second day, then hung up again, this time for two days. My legs had swollen. My wrists and hands had gone numb.... There was loud music, [Eminem's] 'Slim Shady' and Dr. Dre for 20 days.... The CIA worked on people, including me, day and night.... Plenty lost their minds. I could hear people knocking their heads against the walls and the doors, screaming their heads off."
That's our tax dollars at work, people.

In further discussing how loud music is played for hours, days, and months on end to "break" the prisoners, Smith half-jokingly pondered the possibility of suing the military for unpaid broadcast license fees on behalf of the musicians whose music was misused in this way.

While Smith has yet to go that far (that I am aware of), it appears that a step has been made in the right direction.

Smith's organization Reprieve recently worked with legendary musician and human rights activist Peter Gabriel and other musicians to prepare a letter to President Obama asking him to ban the use of music by U.S. military interrogators. The letter, dated July 16, 2009, is co-signed by the Musicians' Union and UK Music, and supported by several prominent musical artists.

An excerpt from the letter:

"We are, of course, against all forms of torture, but as musicians we are particularly concerned about the misuse of music and that this practice may slip under the radar unless you explicitly condemn it.

"The practice is an abuse of our rights as well as, of course, those of the prisoners who are subjected to it.

"We ask you to send a clear message and explicitly outlaw the use of music to 'break' and interrogate prisoners."

In announcing the letter, Smith made the following statement:
"Blasting prisoners with ear-splitting music 24/7 is a form of modern torture. Yet because this technique leaves no visible scars, there is a real chance that President Obama will consider it harmless. It is not. It causes severe psychiatric problems, the devastating effects of which can last a lifetime.

"It is a clear violation of the Geneva Conventions, and an affront to musicians everywhere.

"Reprieve joins Peter Gabriel and the music industry in urging President Obama to explicitly ban the use of 'torture music' in the new Army Field Manual, thereby sending a clear message to military and CIA operatives that this technique is officially illegal."


The United Nations and the European Court of Human Rights have banned the use of loud music in interrogations, but we are apparently still using it. Prisoners have said that the experience is harder to bear than even physical torture.

I hope that President Obama will see the light and immediately ban this practice.

Rate It | View Ratings

Mary Shaw Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and activist, with a focus on politics, human rights, and social justice. She is a former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the Nobel-Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International, and her views (more...)
Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Follow Me on Twitter     Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEd News Newsletter
   (Opens new browser window)

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

No Excuse for Racial Profiling

No, Dan, America is Not a Christian Nation

They Still Cling to Guns and Religion

Racism Then and Now

Tea Party Talking Points, Translated

The Myth of the Christian Right

To View Comments or Join the Conversation:

Tell A Friend