Reprieve launches zero dB on MySpace

June 25, 2009

Image of a spotlight in a dark room

Reprieve has launched an innovative online petition against music torture on MySpace ahead of President Obama’s July 21 report on ‘no touch’ torture techniques.

The zero dB campaign was today formally launched by online community MySpace.

Coinciding with the UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, zero dB aims to persuade President Obama to ban the use of ‘no-touch’ psychological torture by the US Military.

President Obama ordered a review of US interrogation techniques upon taking office in January. That review will report on July 21st, and the President will amend the US Army Field Manual – which prescribes permitted techniques – accordingly.

Reprieve calls on President Obama to outlaw explicitly the use of ‘no touch’ psychological torture techniques like music torture in the new Army Field Manual.

Victims of music torture are subjected to ear-splitting 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. As Reprieve’s client Binyam Mohamed says: “What would you rather lose: your sight or your mind?”

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

Musician David Gray said: “What we’re talking about here is people in a darkened room, physically inhibited by handcuffs, bags over their heads and music blaring at them. That is torture. It doesn’t matter what the music is – it could be Tchaikovsky’s finest or it could be Barney the Dinosaur. It really doesn’t matter, it’s going to drive you completely nuts.”

Musician Matthew Herbert said: “The use of music as torture is a deplorable new twist in a world that seems deliberately deaf to the effects and injustices of abuse in captivity. This is why, along with others, I support Zero db.”

Clive Stafford Smith, Director of Reprieve, said: “The US Military likes to paint this as harmless, like a prisoner being given an i-Pod. But Binyam Mohamed put it best when I spoke with him in Guantánamo Bay: ‘Imagine you are given a choice,’ he said. ‘To lose your sight or lose your mind. While having your eyes gouged out would be horrendous, there is little doubt which you would choose.’”


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

Notes to Editors:

President Obama’s review: As part of the ‘Executive Order Ensuring Lawful Interrogations’, President Obama commissioned a review of the Army Field Manual, which prescribes all interrogation techniques permitted by the US Military. That review will report back to the President on July 21. The current Army Field Manual does not prohibit ‘no touch’ torture techniques and, despite President Obama’s arrival, such techniques remain in use.

Zero dB: Musicians and fans are uniting against the use of music to torture by joining Zero dB. A long and growing list of supporters includes : Elbow, Dizzee Rascal, Suggs, Doves, Massive Attack, The Alabama 3, Ash, James Lavelle of UNKLE, Matthew Herbert and Mr Scruff. They urge their fans and the wider public to sign up to the petition of silent protests against music torture which are being shown on

Zero dB is backed by the Musicians Union which is calling musicians to voice their outrage against the use of music to torture.

The UN and the European Court of Human Rights have banned the use of loud music in interrogations, but it is still being widely used. Prisoners describe the experience as harder to bear even than physical torture.

Reprieve’s client Binyam Mohamed from North London – recently released from Guantanamo Bay – suffered 18 months of torture in a Moroccan secret prison. During this time his penis was routinely slashed with razor blades, yet he describes the sensation of feeling his sanity slip during psychological torture as even more horrific. He spoke to Reprieve Director Clive Stafford Smith, his lawyer, in Guantánamo Bay:

“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.”

The Musicians’ Union was established in 1893 and represents over 30,000 musicians working in all genres of music. As well as negotiating on behalf of its members with all the major employers in the industry, the MU offers a range of services tailored for the self-employed by providing assistance for professional and student musicians of all ages. More info:

Reprieve became concerned by the frequent mention of music torture whilst interviewing clients. It became clear that music is being used as part of brutal psychological torture in the so called ‘war on terror’. Reprieve decided to launch zero dB in order to draw attention to and put an end to this practice.

Reprieve, a legal action charity, uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay. Reprieve investigates, litigates and educates, working on the frontline, to provide legal support to prisoners unable to pay for it themselves. Reprieve promotes the rule of law around the world, securing each person’s right to a fair trial and saving lives. Clive Stafford Smith is the founder of Reprieve and has spent 25 years working on behalf of people facing the death penalty in the USA.

Reprieve’s current casework involves representing 33 prisoners in the US prison at Guantanamo Bay, working on behalf of prisoners facing the death penalty, and conducting ongoing investigations into the rendition and the secret detention of ‘ghost prisoners’ in the so-called ‘war on terror.’

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