Sunday, April 17, 2005

Marla Ruzicka, founder of The Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict (CIVIC), was killed yesterday in Baghdad. Marla worked together with Raed Jarrar, a friend of Salam Pax.

Here's more on her death from Raed:

I got a phone call from the US after midnight telling me that Marla Ruzika was killed in Baghdad yesterday. I got an email later from my friend Justin Alexander in Baghdad:

Dear friends & collegues of Marla,

Sometime between 3-6pm Baghdad time Marla died in a car crash. My current information is poor, but the accident may have happened on the Baghdad Airport road as she travelled to visit an Iraqi kid injured by a bomb, part of her daily work of identifying and supporting innocent victims of this conflict.

A US military convoy was involved in the event, but it is not clear at this stage in what way precisely.

I have no information on the whereabouts or health of her collegue Faiz who I believe was with her in the car. [...]

And from Reuters:

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - An American humanitarian worker was among three people killed in a suicide car bomb attack on a convoy traveling on Baghdad's airport road, the U.S. embassy said Sunday.

Marla Ruzicka, 27, the founder of the Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict, was driving behind a private security convoy when the car bomb exploded Saturday, security officials said.

The identities of the others killed were not immediately known. Five people were wounded in the explosion and taken to a U.S. military hospital inside Baghdad's Green Zone, a U.S. embassy spokesman said.

Ruzicka, who grew up in California, had worked frequently in Iraq and Afghanistan trying to uncover details on the number of civilian casualties in the wars and secure compensation for the families of victims.

She also spent time cataloguing the impact of war on communities, often running great risks to do so.


The road to Baghdad's international airport is one of the most dangerous in the country, with almost daily suicide bomb blasts and ambushes.

Ruzicka was shortly due to leave Iraq to return to the United States to work on securing more funding for her group.

And here's Marla's Letter to the Editor published in the New York Times Feb. 5, 2005:

To the Editor:

Lt. Gen. James N. Mattis's comments during a speech in San Diego, remarking that "it's fun to shoot some people," in reference to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, are appalling. At a time when the United States military is trying to win hearts and minds in both countries, and when Iraqis think that American forces are trigger-happy, his words are counterproductive. For our troops who are dying every day, making war sound like a sport is beyond distasteful.

General Mattis was defended by Gen. Michael W. Hagee, who said that "he intended to reflect the unfortunate and harsh realities of war." From living in Afghanistan and Iraq for much of the last three years, assisting noncombatants harmed in the crossfire, I find that General Mattis's comments do not represent what it is like to lose a loved one or a home. For a parent in the United States who lost a brave young son or daughter, his words are far from comforting.

I have worked with many of our servicemen who have helped me assist innocent civilians injured accidentally by American forces. It is not fair that their acts of kindness and care are misrepresented by General Mattis's undignified remarks.

Marla Ruzicka
New York, Feb. 4, 2005
The writer is founder, Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict

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