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Last Updated: Monday, 19 March 2007, 08:29 GMT
My Iraq: Police diver's story
Baghdad police diver, Abd Kadhem
Abd Kadhem had plans to open a diving school

Abd Kadhem has been working as a police diver on the Tigris River in Baghdad for 30 years. He is 50 years old.

Diving is a humanitarian job. We save people's lives and we remove any strange things that we find floating in the river.

Sometimes we can't see what's on the river bed, so we use our hands to feel things and we use our brain to work out what it is.

I might find old cars thrown into the river. You can also come across big white rocks - these too can be dangerous for the diver.

If someone has drowned we look for the body so we can return it to their family.

We use our hands to find the body and drag it out of the water.

Bodies

We also find people who have been murdered because of the violence, but these are very few.

You see many different marks on these bodies. They can have their hands tied, or have bullets in them.

We feel very sorry for these cases; they are people who were killed without the chance to see any member of their family again.

Our work has actually decreased over the last four years, because we can't go to certain areas.

In the past we were in charge of all the provinces; we would rush to any emergency anywhere. But now our work is limited to this area.

The river represents love and sweetness to me, because I have spent all my life working in it

Movement has generally been limited over the past four years. Roads, parks and gardens are not safe.

It makes it hard to get things for your family - fuel for example. When you can't provide for your family, it's disturbing.

My life has been unstable.

I used to be able to plan nice things for the family; trips to nice places in other parts of the country. But that's over.

Before the invasion, I had plans to start a private diving club so we could teach diving in swimming pools. But this has all stopped.

View from the police boat
Patrolling the Tigris River in Baghdad

As a diver, the river represents love and sweetness to me, because I have spent all my life working in it.

The river reveals itself beautifully to the diver and you see things that don't exist on land.

But anyone travelling the river by boat can see its beauty; you can see how it bends here and there.

The river is for everybody on the face of the earth. People drink from it and wash in it.

So when you see people have thrown bodies into the river, you hate them. And you hate everyone involved in the murder.

No religion can encourage people to commit such acts. When I see such things, I feel very sad.



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