Musicians say, USA, stop music torture

From Reprieve in Britain:

July 16, 2009

Musicians’ letter to Obama

Peter Gabriel leads music industry call for the President to ban music torture in his July 21 review of US interrogation policy.

Musician and human rights campaigner Peter Gabriel has today written to President Obama requesting an explicit ban on the use of music by US military interrogators.

The letter is co-signed by the Musicians’ Union and UK Music and supported by artists including Dizzee Rascal, Graham Coxon and Doves.

Victims of music torture are subjected to deafening music played for hours, days and months on end in order to ‘break’ them. Such techniques are currently used by the US military to destroy victims psychologically; the long-term damage is often far more devastating than physical injury.

President Obama’s official review of US interrogation techniques will conclude next Tuesday 21st July, and the Administration will amend the US Army Field Manual – which prescribes permitted techniques – accordingly.

“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,” Peter Gabriel writes to the President in today’s letter.

“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.”

Clive Stafford Smith, Director of Reprieve, said today: “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.”

zero dB is Reprieve’s innovative online ‘silent petition’ which aims stop music torture by encouraging widespread condemnation of the practice. Sign up at

For further information about Reprieve and zero dB please contact Alex Grace, Reprieve’s Event Producer, on 07779 614054 or email:

Bush’s key men face grilling on torture and death squads: here.

Civil rights activists have demanded an independent probe into deaths at the US Guantanamo Bay camp after it emerged that a detainee whose death was blamed on suicide actually died of asphyxiation: here.

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