Pop stars campaign for closure of Guantanamo Bay
REM, Pearl Jam, Nine Inch Nail’s, Trent Reznor, and Billy Bragg are among a coalition of musicians who have a joined a new campaign pressuring US politicians to close the Guantanamo Bay detention centre. Many of these artists joined the movement after discovering their music had been used to torture those kept captive by the American military.
A Freedom of Information (FOI) request has been lodged on behalf of the artists in a bid to force authorities to reveal which music was played over loudspeakers into the cells of inmates at Guantanamo Bay as well as “black sites” – clandestine facilities set up under the Bush administration to interrogate terrorist suspects.
Some 20 declassified documents uncovered by the Archive, an independent research institute, refer the use of “loud” music to “create futility” in uncooperative detainees. Campaigners claim that music was played repeatedly at ear-splitting levels to ‘humiliate, terrify, disorient, punish, and deprive detainees of sleep’.
The musicians want the full list of songs used at the camp to be disclosed from classified records as part of a protest against the continued existence of the facility, which President Obama pledged to close as one of the first acts of his administration.
“At Guantánamo, the US government turned a jukebox into an instrument of torture,” said Thomas Blanton, executive director of the National Security Archive, a non-governmental research institute that is one of the campaign’s main backers.
Former detainees at the centre have claimed that songs from the likes of AC/DC, Britney Spears, the Bee Gees, Metallica, and Sesame Street were played at an ear-splitting level to break terrorist suspects.
In a statement, REM said: “We have spent the past 30 years supporting causes related to peace and justice. To now learn that some of our friends’ music may have been used as part of the torture tactics without their consent or knowledge is horrific. It’s anti-American, period.”
Members of the hip hop band The Roots said: “When we found out that music was being used as part of the torture going on at Guantanamo, shackling and beating people – we were angry. Just as we wouldn’t be caught dead allowing Dick Cheney to use our music for his campaigns, you can be damn sure, we wouldn’t allow him to use it to torture other human beings. Congress needs to shut Guantanamo down.”
President Obama has met with increasing resistance over his pledge to close Guantánamo by the end of January 2010. Plans to shut Guantanamo have been beset by logistical problems that could see its eventual closure put back by months.