Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): Hussein al-Qassab was acquitted of the charge brought against him only after he was subjected to brutal torture. The 38-year-old Bahraini spent about 6 months in prison and then was released. He; however, faces another crueler type of prison that he has to endure for the rest of his life. Hussein has become paralyzed. He was completely healthy when he first entered prison yet left with a life changing disability.
He is a father to three daughters: Jinan (8 years old), Fatima (6 years old) and Abrar (4 years old). All of his family's dreams were crushed when they learned of Hussein's sufferings and now their sole dream is to see Hussein stand on his feet again, to return to his normal life and work and support his family like his former self.
It was later discovered that Hussein suffers from sciatic nerve pain; a disease that if not properly treated will lead to weakness in the muscles. However, instead of treating him in prison, Hussein was only given painkillers which led to the condition he is currently suffering from. There was no clear answer for the relation between this disease and the torture he was subjected to. All what Hussein and his family know is that before this incident, he did not suffer from any illness.
Hussein has been awaiting the opinions of medical committees on his condition for over a year. Most of the doctors who reviewed his case said that if he had received the adequate treatment, his condition would not have deteriorated. Hussein traveled to receive treatment in Iran and then went to Kerala. All of the doctors said that he would have been fine if he had been properly treated. Hussein could not continue his treatment due to financial difficulties, despite the fact that his condition witnessed remarkable improvement. He started to slightly move his right leg after it was totally paralyzed. Hussein wishes to recover and sees that it is the government's duty to pay for his treatment. He is now waiting for specialists opinions in the Czech Republic to carry on his treatment.
Some good doers offered to buy Hussein an electronic wheelchair, yet he told them, "I do not need a chair to help me with my weakness. I need treatment to help me improve."
What is Hussein Al-Qassab's Story?
In 2015, mass protests were staged in Abu Saiba village on the February 14th uprising anniversary. Hussein finished his work and went to have lunch at his father's home with his siblings and family. At about 4 PM, he left his father's house.
As soon as Hussein left his father's home, he was surprised to see a security serviceman shouting at him, "Stop...Don't move." Hussein immediately stopped after he saw that the security serviceman was heavily armed. It was only few moments until 4-5 security men surrounded Hussein, held him high in the air and then threw him to the ground with force. Hussein fainted. His family saw the security forces brutally beat him. They tried to save him but the security servicemen did not allow them near him. None of his family members took photos of the incidents because they were scared to death.
The policeman held Hussein from his neck (as shown clearly in photos circulated on social media) and dragged him until he couldn't feel his legs.
Hussein was in a state of shock and was not aware of what was happening around him. The security officers dragged him out of the village and then beat him again. When he woke up, Hussein was surprised to find himself in that place. The security men were gathering more men with Hussein and hitting them as well. Hussein was left on the ground not conscious of what is going on until one of the security officers poured a bottle of water on his face and ear to wake him up.
When Hussein regained his consciousness inside Al-Budai police station, bruises were covering all of his face and body. His lip was bleeding, he couldn't move his right leg and his hands were tightly cuffed with a plastic wire.
A policeman at the Al-Budai police station addressed Hussein asking him: "How does anyone hit or bite a policeman?" Bewildered, Hussein said, "I did not hit anyone. I did not bite anyone." He then saw a policeman smiling as if he was overjoyed that he could alter the facts and accuse Hussein of assaulting two security men.
Due to his severe bleeding, Al-Qassab was taken to the Al-Salmaniya medical complex to have his cuts stitched. He was given painkillers and returned to the police station. He couldn't sleep all night due to his agonizing pains.
Hussein expected that he'd be taken to the public prosecution the following day. He was; however, transferred to the Al-Qalaa hospital as he was in terrible pain. The doctor there ordered that Hussein remain at the hospital and so he was kept there for 11 days.
Al-Qassab says that "the doctor at the Al-Qalaa hospital visited repeatedly and questioned me whenever he entered my room: Why are you here? Who brought you here?" Hussein further states that he couldn't walk on his right leg and was assisted whenever he needed to use the wash room.
"When I Saw my Face in Al-Qalaa Hospital's Mirror"
Hussein did not know the condition he was in until he saw his face in the mirror, "I was shocked when I looked into the mirror. I knew that I had cuts stitched on my face but I didn't imagine this ugly image," he stressed.
One week later, Hussein was taken to the forensic doctor who discovered an injury in his testicles. He was then transferred to the Dry Dock Prison where he started to receive treatment for his right knee.
In his first hearing session on May 10, 2015, Hussein was forced to appear in person before the judge. He fell on the stairs that day because he couldn't walk on his leg. He asked his family, via a phone call, to tell the lawyer to get a medical report for him and send a letter to the judge stating that he can't attend the court sessions again due to his condition. "I used to suffer when they took me to the court or prosecution. I used to fall many times because I was not able to walk on my legs. Sometimes my shoes fell from my leg without even noticing because I could not feel it. I often told them that I can't walk but they didn't believe me." In May 2015, Hussein called his family asking them to get him a medical shoes because his shoes were falling from his feet involuntarily, let alone that he couldn't walk.
"The investigator didn't believe me when I told him that I was standing in front of my father's house, but I insisted on my narrative and all the members of my family who were inside the house told the same story," he noted.
"In my last days at the Dry Dock Prison, I depended on my hands to move. My cell mates tried to help me and ask the prison's administration to transfer me to the hospital. I did not suffer from any disease before my arrest. I had a healthy and strong body," he added.
Dr. Isa Al-Shorouqi's Diagnosis: Simple Condition, You Have Vitamin "D" Deficiency
At the end of May, Hussein was transferred to Al-Salmaniya where he was given shots and then returned, "I can still remember that it was 2 AM, the agent there received me, asked me to wear the gown and stand up and sit down for 11 consecutive times. I failed to do them all and fell down when I reached the 10th time. The agent did not even care about this and asked me to repeat the moves for 2 more times. This method is followed by the prisons' officials when they want to search a detainee. They practice it at any time even if the detainee was returning from a visit from hospital," he said.
Hussein was transferred to Al-Salmaniya 3 days later after they were sure that his leg's condition has become very serious. "I was checked by an Indian doctor who ordered to keep me there. Thus, I was transferred to the orthopaedics department. Several doctors visited me but they couldn't diagnose my case," Hussein adds that "after about 10 days, the neurology consultant Dr. Isa Al-Shorouqi visited me. His visits were not organized. I used to always ask myself about him and every time I gave him excuses: maybe he is abroad, on vacation or elsewhere." Dr. Al-Shorouqi said that my case is simple and that I only need vitamin "D" supplements and then I can go back to the prison. I told him. "If am able to walk, then take me back to prison."
"In July, they inserted a urinary catheter in my bladder and I started to wear diapers because I lost control." he sad. His case deteriorated after he became totally paralyzed so that he couldn't even move his neck. Thus, he was transferred in bed to the Ombudsman that visited him in the hospital after he was released. In August, Hussein started to use a wheelchair after he fell in the hospital's wash room.
"I stayed in the orthopaedics department for two months and after I was released at the end of July 2015, I was directly transferred to the neurology department. I was pretty sure that the doctors knew that my case requires me to be transferred to the neurology rather than the orthopaedics department. I spent about a month in the neurology section and I was told that I suffer from infection, clots in my head and on my back and weakness in the peripherals."
Acquittal in return for Paralysis
Hussein recounts his sufferings that he has been living since over 2 years: "I was acquitted in October 2015 but I am still imprisoned in a wheelchair. I lost my work and became paralyzed. I used to work as a driver. I am now unemployed. I have a wife and 3 daughters."
"I started to rely on my wife in everything inside the house. I had to change the bathroom's door and make it bigger so that I can enter it alone with my wheelchair. I started to wear my diaper alone and try as much as possible to depend on myself," he further states.
"My daughters lost their father who used to take them to play centers. Now my wife learned how to drive and I depend on her to drive our girls to school and in everything," he says, adding, "I used to prepare dinner for my daughters and parents. I used to do everything my daughters wanted, but it is much harder now, not to mention our financial situation that began to get hold of us."
"One of the hardest situations I ever lived is when my wife got sick out of sudden. My daughters and I were the only with her and I saw her suffering. I called my mother; my brothers and sisters who directly came and took her to the hospital. I was worried about her. I sat with my daughters at home. My weakness was killing me. I kept on calling my sister every minute and tried to tell the girls that their mother is okay. It is so difficult when you can't embrace your wife in such a situation."
"I often forget my condition for a brief moment and try to move, then I remember that I am paralyzed and I can't walk. However, I depend on myself in moving in the wheelchair. I go to the grocery store alone. I feel embarrassed to ask for help. Sometimes I cross about half a kilometer to reach an ATM."
"My Little Girls Lost their Joy"
Hussein says his girls haven't seen him standing up and walking since he was arrested. "One day I was coming from a treatment session and I used the walker. My daughters did not believe their eyes and screamed "Dad can walk!!" My girls have lost their joy. I try to embrace them even if I am on the wheel chair so that they don't feel deprived. I do whatever I can to make them happy, although they understand my situation." He continues to say, "I often hesitate to ask anyone for help. I even feel embarrassed to ask someone to drive me anywhere. I usually ask for my wife's help but I started to feel shy to ask her to do anything due to the burdens on her shoulders."
Crying unit she was out of breath, Hussein's wife wholeheartedly said, "Thank God...What can I say, the situation is very difficult. My daughters now dream to see their father walking again."
"I am nothing without Hussein. He used to do everything before, but since he got sick I feel....," she adds weeping not able to finish her words.
"Hussein often says repeatedly: If I were able to walk, your life would have been different. He has become sensitive and nervous. Sometimes he insists to go out alone on his wheelchair. One day I insisted on going with him when he wanted to go out, as if I felt that something is going to happen. A car was moving backward and was about to crush him. Hussein started to hit the car using both his hands, however, the driver did not notice him, yet thank God he was not harmed," she added.