Reprieve will host events at Latitude Festival and United Underground this Saturday 18th July.

July 16, 2009

Image of a spotlight in a dark room

Reprieve’s zero dB campaign against music torture will contribute to two festivals this weekend:

Latitude Festival

Clive Stafford Smith, Director of Reprieve, will speak about music torture and Reprieve’s work at 11am in the Latitude Festival’s Literary Arena. Reprieve will also host ‘political party games’ in the Literary Salon throughout the three-day festival.

United Underground at London Southbank Centre

Reprieve will join Riz Ahmed, British Underground and Ctrl Alt Shift at the United Underground festival. The event promotes engagement with new music as a catalyst for change.

Reprieve will be encouraging people to film their own 5-second silent protest for our online petition against music torture at Footage from our zero dB documentary will be shown in the Purcell Room and a Reprieve talk will take place on the rooftop terrace as part of ‘Speakers Corner’.

Clive Stafford Smith, Director of Reprieve, said: “The US Military likes to paint music torture 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.’”

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: or go to or


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 like music torture and, despite President Obama’s arrival, such techniques remain in use.

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.

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, Graham Coxon, 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 GuantánamoBay – 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 Guantánamo 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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