April 17, 2005 by

Marla Ruzicka


Categories: Extraordinary People

mruzicka.jpgMarla Ruzicka, a longtime peace activist and the founder of Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict (CIVIC), was killed in a car bombing on April 16. She was 28.
Born and raised in Lakeport, Calif., Ruzicka became interested in humanitarian issues in high school. Although she technically resided in New York City, Ruzicka rarely spent much time in the United States. Instead, she traveled around the world and tried to alleviate the suffering she encountered.
While studying for her bachelor’s degree in political science and social work at Long Island University, Ruzicka volunteered with Global Exchange in the Middle East, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Zimbabwe and Nicaragua. As a young adult, she worked on AIDS issues in Africa, protested the U.S. embargo in Cuba and visited Afghanistan to survey the needs of refugees affected by America’s “war on terror.”
In 2003, Ruzicka founded CIVIC, a non-profit organization dedicated to identifying and addressing the needs of civilian war casualties. The day after the statue of Saddam Hussein toppled in Baghdad, she set up a CIVIC office in the capital city and launched a door-to-door survey of Iraqi civilian casualties.
Ruzicka and more than 150 volunteers viewed scenes of destruction and carnage as they documented the war’s collateral damage. Their work, which was publicized in dozens of newspaper and magazine articles and in the 2003 book “Embedded: The Media at War in Iraq” by Bill Katovsky and Timothy Carlson, inspired Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) to create a special fund in the foreign aid bill to help innocent Iraqis who were harmed in the military operations.
Ruzicka was traveling near Baghdad International Airport on Saturday to visit an injured Iraqi child when a suicide bomber attacked a convoy of security contractors that was passing near her vehicle. An Army officer who arrived on the scene shortly after the bomber struck said Ruzicka was still alive and conscious with burns over 90 percent of her body when the car became engulfed in flames. Ruzicka, her Iraqi driver Faiz Ali Salim, and a guard on the convoy died in the blast. Five other people were wounded.
Marla’s Journal

11 Responses to Marla Ruzicka

  1. stu

    I feel great sympathy for the family of Marla and for the Iraqi people. She was one of the Americans actually doing some good in Iraq. And EVERY life wasted in this stupid war, on both sides, should be mourned.

  2. m!ke

    may marla be rewarded for her great works towards peace in worlds beyond this weak and unjust one. many thanks for your trials and sacrifices, marla. you were a hero.

  3. mary agoglia

    Marla thank you for loving the Iraqi people.
    Some words from Gandhi to help us mourn Marla’s death…
    “When I despair, I remember all through history TRUTH and LOVE always win. There have been tyrants and murderers who seem invinicible but in the end they always fall. Remember God’s Way.” Marla, you are a winner. Peace to you and your loved ones.

  4. jim

    Reading The WSJ editorial, I found nothing which resembled Mike’s analysis. That leads me to wonder whether his other “facts” are as dubious.
    A foreign policy of nation-building and defensive war must have as a core component for success the “good citizenship” of accountability. It isn’t a traitorous gesture to say this, rather it is similar to expressing concerns about un-armored humvees being foisted on our combat troops. Each circumstance can get our people killed and both are entirely avoidable.
    Marla went places and ultimately found the right venue for her sacrifice. That she wasn’t a fan of business interests or perhaps the current administration doesn’t address the fact that if we apologize to those who are caught in the crossfire of our actions, we may well temper the rage of a later enemy. Remember that the code of revenge is very strong in Afghanistan and Iraq.
    So, folks like Mike may see more clearly if they look past their initial personal sentiments and consider more responsibly the gaps in our counter-insurgency plans. And as for Marla getting what she deserved, she was burned over 90% of her body and lived long enough to endure that pain. Anyone who can honestly say they feel that fate is appropriate for a human being speaks from a place I can’t understand. The odds are that the sight, smell, and sound of such a tragedy would change the way they speak about it forever.

  5. Monica PEndleton

    I find it so sad that people would say that someone got what they deserved when referring to death. That is so unfair. I don’t know a lot about this woman. I’m sure I wouldn’t have agreed with her on most issues. However, I admire anyone that feels so deeply about something that they live their lives to make it happen. WE should all do more to promote peace

  6. Sean

    I think Marla dedicated her life to helping people’s lives in the worst hell holes on earth, those so called patriots who critise her should sign up and fight in iraq rather than sit at home watching TV and judging those who put their lifes at risk for what they believe.

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