If there was to be one word in Arabic to describe Hell on earth, perhaps it would be Alradwania. For at the prison there, men turned into monsters. They unleashed terror and suffering on an unimaginable scale. Hell is a mythical concept in religion, but the pain and death endured by the captives at this Baghdad prison was very much of this earth. Countless thousands of ordinary Iraqis were taken from their homes or picked up off the streets and thrown into Alradwania Prison in 1991. Most met a hideous death, the lucky ones were executed. A few survived, seemingly against all odds, but of the survivors only one was a university professor and writer. That man was Dr Qasim Albrisem. He recorded the actual events that took place there by etching every incident, every detail into his memory. No pen or paper existed for the prisoners. There was only the concrete wall of the cell where detainees could engrave their memories, sufferings and dates by their fingernails. Qasim Albrisem was for some time too terrified to write even a single line about his ordeal in prison because of the 'Execution Declarations' that he had signed in Iraq immediately after his release. These declarations were gagging orders enforced by threat of summary execution. In Alradwania, he survived extreme physical and psychological punishment; hunger, isolation and profound despair. He suffered alongside hundreds of his comrades under torture and cried with them as their lives ebbed away. He recovered from numerous beatings, electric shock treatment, from being shackled in a basement cell with only a poisous snake for company, and numerous privations that turned him into little more than a living skeleton. Then, he made a daring escape across the desert and ultimately to freedom in England where he was able to tell this gripping true story.
About the author Born in Basra, Iraq, l951, Qasim Albrisem studied at the College of Arts, University of Basra. He was granted a scholarship to study for a PhD outside Iraq in Britain. He returned to Iraq in l985 and joined the University of Basra as a lecturer. In 1991 after the invasion of Kuwait, the Basra people rebelled against Saddam Hussein. Qasim joined the uprising and led the demonstration in Basra. He was captured and taken to the infamous prison, Alradwania in Baghdad where he was tortured severely. He was released in l993 and escaped on foot across the desert. About the co-writer David Hetherington was born in Cumberland, England in 1950. He went to school in Penrith and became a journalist in 1967. He has been involved in journalism and publishing in London since 1969.