Marla was killed in a car bomb in Baghdad on April 16, 2005. Marla joined CODEPINK in our first trip to Iraq, and stayed on to help Iraqis.
Marla's organization, CIVIC, continues her hard work. Click here to find out more.
Marla with Iraqi mother and child
Glimpses of Marla
Lakeport mourns its loss:
Town recalls lively spirit of activist killed in Baghdad
By Jim Doyle, Joe Garofoli, Chronicle Staff Writers, April 19, 2005
My Friend Died Helping Iraqi Civilians
By Mark MacKinnon, Globe & Mail (Canada), April 19, 2005
Gone, Not Forgotten
By Rebecca O'Halloran and Liam Pleven, April 19, 2005
Aid Worker's Words Just a Week Before She Was Killed
By Marla Ruzicka, April 19, 2005
A Disarming Presence In a Dangerous World
By Pamela Constable, Washington Post, April 19, 2005
An advocate for Iraqis falls. Will U.S. take up her cause?
USA TODAY OP-ED, April 19, 2005
Marla Ruzicka, RIP
By Phillip Robertson, salon.com
While others argued, Marla acted. She gave her young life to help the innocent victims of the Iraq war. At 28, she represented the best of America.
An American Aid Worker Is Killed in Her Line of Duty
By Robert F. Worth, The New York Times
Iraq Car Bomb Kills American Activist
By Brian Skoloff, AP News, April 18, 2005
Flash presentation on Marla's work
Young Activist's Life Cut Short in Iraq Blast
By Doug Smith, LA Times
An American activist who dared to help Iraqi victims
Intrepid humanitarian aid worker Marla Ruzicka died in Baghdad Saturday when her car was caught in an insurgent attack.
Christian Science Monitor
Counting On Marla
By Tai Moses, AlterNet
Appreciation: Marla Ruzicka, 1977-2005
Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy, On The Death Of Marla Ruzicka
Remembering a friend killed in Iraq, Marla Ruzicka
From Kevin Danaher and Medea Benjamin
Just about every day we hear of bombs going off in Iraq, and perhaps we pause for a moment and think what a tragedy it is, and then we go back to our daily routine. But when someone close to you is killed by one of those bombs, the world stops spinning.
On Saturday April 16, our colleague and friend, 28-year-old Marla Ruzicka of Lakeport, California, was killed when a car bomb exploded on the streets of Baghdad. We still don't know the exact details of her death, which makes it all that much harder to deal with the utter shock of losing this bright, shining light whose work focused on trying to bring some compassion into the middle of a war zone.
Marla was working for a humanitarian organization she founded called CIVIC (Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict), which documents cases of innocent civilians hurt by war. Marla and numerous other volunteers would go door-to-door interviewing families who had lost loved ones or had their property destroyed by the fighting. She would then take this information back to Washington and lobby for reparations for these families.
A case in point, taken from Marla's own journal, as published November 6, 2003 on AlterNet:
"On the 24th of October, former teacher Mohammad Kadhum Mansoor, 59, and his wife, Hamdia Radhi Kadhum, 45, were traveling with their three daughters -- Beraa, 21, Fatima, 8, and Ayat, 5 years old -- when they were tragically run over by an American tank.
A grenade was thrown at the tank, causing it to loose control and veer onto the highway, over the family's small Volkswagen. Mohammad and Hamdia were killed instantly, orphaning the three girls in the backseat. The girls survived, but with broken and fractured bodies. We are not sure of Ayat's fate; her backbone is broken.
CIVIC staff member Faiz Al Salaam monitors the girls' condition each day. Nobody in the military or the U.S. Army has visited them, nor has anyone offered to help this very poor family.
Marla first came to the Global Exchange office when she was still in high school in Lakeport. She had heard a talk by one of staff members about Global Exchange's work building people-to-people ties around the world and she wanted to do something to help. She was a quick study and took to the work with a passion and energy that were inspiring to us older activists. She later chose a college (Friends World College) that allowed her to travel to many countries and learn from diverse cultures. She quickly develop "big love -- love of the human race, in all its joy, frailties and exotic permutations.
Marla worked with AIDS victims in Zimbabwe, refugees in Palestine, campesinos in Nicaragua. Following the US invasion of Afghanistan, Marla traveled to Afghanistan with a Global Exchange delegation and she was so moved by the plight of the civilian victims that she dedicated the rest of her too short life to helping innocent victims of war. She was on a similar mission in Iraq when she met with her untimely death.
Marla was once asked by a San Francisco Chronicle reporter if she would ever consider doing work that was safer. Marla answered: "To have a job where you can make things better for people? That's a blessing. Why would I do anything else?
We are somewhat consoled by the fact that Marla died doing what she really wanted to do: help people less fortunate than herself. Many of us believe that character trait to be the most beautiful quality a human being can possess. And Marla had an abundance of it.
It is so difficult to think of this lively young woman as not being alive any more. Marla seemed to have one speed: all-ahead-full. She had more courage than most people we know. She loved big challenges and she took them on with a radiant smile that could melt the coldest heart.
One of the things we can do to honor Marla Ruzicka is to carry on her heartfelt work to build a world without hunger, war and needless suffering. And every time we start to get depressed about the state of the world, we should take inspiration from Marla's boundless energy and throw ourselves back into the work of global justice with the same kind of passion that was Marla's most endearing quality.