Fri March 16, 2012
BBC Your World: Torture by Music
British citizen, Ruhal Ahmed, spent two years in Guantanamo Bay. After his release he returned home to Tipton in the West Midlands without ever being charged with a crime by the British or US governments. During his incarceration Ruhal was repeatedly tortured by his captors. The technique he feared most was being tortured with music. We chart Ruhal’s progress as he attempts to silence torture by music.
Ruhal, who was 19 at the time of his incarceration, says he learnt to cope with the physical beatings he often suffered, but was traumatised by being short-shackled to the floor in a crouching position and forced to listen to Eminem's Kim for hours on end at very high volume. Strobe lights were shone in his eyes and guards with barking dogs surrounded him. Reflecting on the practice of 'music torture' Ruhal says it’s worse than physical pain because you can’t block it out and you feel that you are losing your mind.
As well as Eminem, songs by AC/DC, Bruce Springsteen, Metallica and children’s artists Barney the Dinosaur and Sesame Street were repeatedly played to Ruhal and other detainees at extreme volume as part of a 'torture playlist'. These techniques are still in use at black-site prisons around the world to induce sleep deprivation, prolong capture shock, disorientate detainees during interrogations and to drown out screams. The effect of this technique to break a man's mind and spirit was so strong that Ruhal can no longer listen to music and if he hears a track that was used to torture him he suffers horrific flashbacks.
The programme charts the progress of Ruhal alongside other former-detainees, campaigners and psychologists, as they attempt to silence music torture, and explains how an art form meant to bring joy is being used to degrade, embarrass and break the spirit of an unlucky few.
On World Radio 89.5-3 Saturday 17 March 10:06 am, 4:06 & 11:06 pm