The Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp, on Guantánamo Bay in Cuba, was set up in 2002. The detention camp was planned to hold some of the most dangerous criminals in the United States. But most notably, Guantanamo Bay would serve as a place to hold and interrogate those who had committed war crimes.
The detention camp has stirred up a huge amount of controversy since its inception, particularly due to the reports of torture that have been made by former inmates at the facility. Many important organisations that battle to protect human rights, such as Amnesty International, have spoken ill of the detention camp and have led numerous campaigns to have it shut down permanently. Famously, Amnesty International once referred to Guantanamo as “the Gulag of our time.” Guantanamo Bay has housed some infamous inmates, such as Ramzi Bin Al-Shibh, who planned to, but couldn’t, take part in the 9/11 attack. Bin Al-Shibh was denied entry to the United States after his Visa was rejected. Another infamous detainee is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who is suspected to have been the overall mastermind behind the horrific terrorist attack of 9/11.
However dangerous its prisoners may be, many have still called for Guantanamo’s shut down because of the ruthless torture methods they reportedly employ. Many human rights activists are devastated that Barack Obama has not taken significant action to monitor behaviours in Guantanamo Bay. The president formerly claimed that he would close the prison, but his affirmation has yet to come to fruition. Take a look at a few of the most ruthless interrogation techniques that have reportedly been used in Guantanamo Bay to understand why human rights activists are up in arms about the continued operation of the facility. Some disturbing descriptions follow so reader discretion is advised.
5. Musical Torture
Musical torture is a very common psychological torture technique. This technique has reportedly been used many times by the CIA. They apparently have a list of songs to use, which mainly consists of popular pop songs and children’s music! Some noteworthy songs on the list include Christina Aguilera‘s ‘Dirty’, Eminem‘s ‘The Real Slim Shady’, Barney the Dinosaur’s ‘I Love You’, Marilyn Manson‘s ‘The Beautiful People’ and the Meow Mix theme. NME reported last month that new information revealed that The Red Hot Chili Pepper’s music was also a popular choice for torture. The reports also stated that a victim who was subjected to this music, named as Zayn al-Abidin Muhammad Husayn Abu Zubaydah, was hung from the ceiling by shackles whilst he was subjected to musical torture.
The idea behind this method is that the subject is kept in a room with a certain song playing on a loop, loudly, for hours. Sometimes even days. This seemingly simple method has quite a shocking psychological effect on the victim. The looping music can become extraordinarily maddening overtime, and would be very difficult for a victim to endure over a long period of time.
4. Extreme Isolation
Extreme isolation is another term for solitary confinement. This is a torture method as well as a disciplinary procedure in many prison systems worldwide. Isolation affects a prisoner’s emotional state in a highly unusual way.
During a study carried out by Donald O. Hebb in McGill University in the 1950s, Hebb examined the effects of sleep deprivation on a number of volunteers. The study found that a person is significantly weakened mentally during their time in solitary confinement and their emotional strength and personality is broken down. Hebb noted that after the test was completed, many of the candidates behaved like children. They would overreact emotionally to simple things, and had become highly impressionable. As well as this, solitary confinement can cause hallucinations. The lack of stimuli to the brain causes these hallucinations, which can be very troubling, effectively breaking down the will of the sufferer even more.
3. Sensory Deprivation
Sensory deprivation is a very clever form of torture, aimed at breaking down a victim’s will. The CIA is reported to favour this method of interrogation. Sensory deprivation places the victim in an area where none of their senses can be utilised; this means a dark, soundproof room. These rooms are often air-conditioned so that there is no smell. In extreme cases, subjects also have gloves placed on their hands so that they cannot touch anything.
Spending a prolonged period of time in these conditions can have detrimental effects on health. The subject quickly begins to suffer from hallucinations, and, later on, what The Justice Campaign calls “disintegration of personality”. According to another study which was carried out on healthy participants, sensory deprivation can lead to emotional breakdowns. Many people during the study noted that they felt an “evil presence” in the room. One can only image what days and days of this kind of treatment could do to the human mind.
2. Simulated Drowning
Simulated drowning, or waterboarding, is an extreme method of torture reportedly used by the CIA at Guantanamo Bay. Strapped to a board and turned upside down, the subject then has water poured on their face. The water is poured from a height, so that it enters the nose and mouth of the person being tortured. The victim then struggles to breathe, as taking in gulps of air is almost impossible. Along with this, the victim is choking and coughing as water enters the lungs. This is the horrible reality of waterboarding – the torture method is so popular because it actually simulates the sensation of drowning, again and again.
Torture methods such as this are the main reason why human rights activists have called for Guantanamo Bay’s closure. Nick Turse, a journalist who investigates the war crimes committed in the United States, sums up the horror of such torture methods, and why they should not be practised in today’s society; “Bush administration lawyers in the post-9/11 years… attempted to redefine the drowning of defenseless prisoners as something less than torture, basically turning the clock back to the ethical standards of the Spanish Inquisition. ” Turse also calls out Obama’s impotence in regard to the banning of such practises in Guantanamo Bay.
1. Moral Torture
Moral torture is one of the most unique forms of torture reportedly used in Guantanamo Bay. Moral torture can be defined as torturing a person’s particular belief system by subjecting them to things or behaviours that they find morally unsound or disturbing. This can also stretch to humiliation techniques and sexual torture. The technique of exposing a person to things that they find personally repulsive is incredibly effective. Many Muslims who have since left Guantanamo Bay have reported torture techniques specifically tailored to humiliate them and expose them to behaviour far outside the boundaries of what their religion deems appropriate.
An example of moral torture is exposing straight men to homosexuality. In other cases, there have been reports that straight inmates were forced to kiss a member of the same sex. Other forms of sexual humiliation include the fondling of a subject’s private parts, or forcing male inmates to strip and dance in front of female officers. It was also claimed that women would enter the room and wipe fake menstrual blood on inmates. Such techniques are designed to force the inmate to confess due to their moral discomfort. Yet there have been more serious reports of sexual humiliation torture techniques in recent years. Many former prisoners have reported being sodomised with guns and wooden poles. If these accusations can be proven to be true, Guantanamo Bay will be forced to close as subjecting someone to sexual violence in this context is classed as a war crime.