Friday, April 29, 2005

BBC - Afghan memorial for US activist

"Many of those Ruzicka had helped or worked with came to the memorial ceremony at a guesthouse in the capital, speaking of her warmth and enthusiasm.

Esanullah, a cluster bomb victim, helps unveil the plaque
People held red tulips which were then laid beneath a plaque on a wall."


Thursday, April 28, 2005

Marla's Work in Context

Via CNN video.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Bay Area Event for Marla May 3, 2005

Honoring and Celebrating the Life of Human-Rights Activist Marla Ruzicka

Tuesday, May 3rd , 7:30 PM
The Women's Building
3543 18th Street @ Valencia
San Francisco, CA
Information: (415) 255-7296

Please join us on this very special evening to honor and celebrate the life and work of Marla Ruzicka, former Bay-Area activist, friend, and colleague who was killed in Baghdad on Saturday, April 16. Marla's work in Afghanistan and Iraq with her organization Campaign for Innocent Victims In Conflict (CIVIC) brought much needed attention to the all too often overlooked civilian deaths and losses suffered during these wars. Marla will be remembered for her tireless work for justice and also for her unyielding zest for life, remarkable capacity for joy, and deep loyalty to friends and family. Her spirit will leave an indelible mark in the world.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Nationwide Vigils for Marla Ruzicka - May 3

"The Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict (CIVIC), the organization founded by Marla Ruzicka, the 28-year-old aid worker who was killed in a suicide bombing in Iraq this week, is calling on people throughout the United States to honor and promote Marla and Faiz's work by commemorating their life work and taking action on behalf of civilian casualties of war."

Read the press release here.

Eulogies for Marla

Highlights of the eulogies for Marla Ruzicka that were delivered Saturday, April 23, 2005 in at St. Mary's Catholic Church, Lakeport, California.

Thanks to the Lake County Record-Bee

Monday, April 25, 2005

Losing a fighter for war's victims

"ARMED ONLY with her humanity, Marla Ruzicka did the impossible. Virtually alone, she directed attention and resources to the invisible victims of war. She moved the military without using force, galvanized official Washington without powerful connections, and motivated the press without sensationalism -- just intimate connection to civilians whose deaths she documented and grieved. Her work was a triumph of the heart."

Boston Globe

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy On The Death Of Marla Ruzicka

"Mr. President, in my 31 years as a United States Senator I have met lots of interesting and accomplished people from all over the world. We all have. Nobel prize winners, heads of State, people who have achieved remarkable and even heroic things in their lives.

I have never met anyone like Marla Ruzicka."

Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy On The Death Of Marla Ruzicka

Saturday, April 23, 2005

More than 600 mourn peace activist at service

"In an emotional three-hour service St. Mary's Immaculate Church, speakers including Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and actor Sean Penn pledged to carry on Ruzicka's one-woman campaign to help compensate innocent victims of U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan."

San Francisco Chronicle

Ruzicka Remembered - AP

"Many of the more than 600 mourners, including friends, family, colleagues and journalists who traveled from around the world for her funeral, shared memories of Marla Ruzicka's boundless energy that helped her accomplish much in her 28 years."

AP /Guardian UK

Guestbook - San Jose Mercury

- It was a lovely and moving day. Thanks to everyone who made the trip to Marla's beloved home town.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Tribute from a Stranger

I never met nor knew of Marla till I read the newspaper article about her tragic death.

The passing of one so young who devoted her life to helping others has taught me, her senior by many years the value of compassion and selfless devotion and a way to live that others like myself might dream of doing but which she personified and for which she gave her young life to fulfill. .

To her Family who lost a wonderful daughter and friends, I sadly mourn the lost of one so fearlessly brave.

Joseph Seubert
Kawasaki, Japan

Voice of America - TV

Watch the video here.

This is an extraordinary piece from America's overseas propaganda arm. It's more honest than much of the domestic news coverage. Though Marla would certainly dispute whether the US military actually keeps civilian death counts. See her USA Today editorial here.

Not only is Marla's legacy treated with dignity, you get a glimpse of her sense of humor. Speaking with a soldier Marla confesses to smoking four cigarettes to deal with the stress.

She says, "Dude, I'm from San Francisco. You're not allowed to smoke."

Beyond your courage Marla, we will miss your ability to see the funny side of everything.

Asheville NC Editorial

In Marla Ruzicka, world has lost a tireless advocate for war's innocent victims

"Ruzicka faced up close and personal what most Americans would as soon not have to confront the vicious consequences of war, the collateral damage that orphans children and rips away their arms and legs. In the end, she became one of the victims in conflict she tried all her life to help. Who will be our conscience now?"

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Purity of Spirit

I first met Marla Ruzicka ten years ago when she arrived at my doorstep, an enthusiastic 16 or 17 year old with passion and drive to spare, to intern at the Bay Area Fifty Years is Enough Campaign. Although she considered me a mentor, I learned as much (or maybe more) from her.

While many high school teens worry about acceptance and how to obtain the latest hot fashion trend, Marla worried about development policy, loans, foreign aid and how vehicles like the World Bank and the IMF were used to foster U.S. government and corporate interests. While the eyes of many glaze over at the subject of macroeconomic policy, Marla’s lit up. While many confess ignorance regarding the politics of countries beyond our borders, Marla passionately drank in this information. Before reaching her 20th birthday Marla had traveled and learned from local residents in several global south countries.

Although I tried to understand from whence this Lakeport teen’s politics and passion sprang from, she gracefully eluded all such questions.

Marla was charismatic, bubbly and irresistible. Working with her was a blast She knew plenty about the human spirit and ensured that the driest of meetings included an opportunity for playful fun.

When, one day, Marla pulled a manuscript out of her bag and asked me to read and comment on “Marla’s Guide to Youth Organizing,” I wasn’t surprised. By that point I knew there was nothing the girl couldn’t do, if she put her heart and mind to it. And, that is the key to understanding Marla and her very personal brand of activism and humanitarian work, she did bring her whole being--- Heart and Mind--- to everything she touched. I believe that it is her wide-open and clear heart that enabled her to be as successful as she was in her work.

Marla had a great purity of spirit, and an irrepressible one at that. She was motivated by an unrelenting determination to make the world a better and more beautiful place for all its people. Sometime around 2001/ 2002 just prior to her second trip to Afghanistan out of fear for her safety, I tried to talk Marla out of going. Her commitment and determination was fierce. She wouldn’t hear of not going. I think that even then, before it became apparent the important role she would come to play in the Middle East among journalists and injured civilians, some part of me was secretly proud of the courage and drive that enabled her to ignore me and the chorus of others, as well as conventional wisdom.

In saying that Marla had a purity of spirit, I don’t mean to suggest that I think she was saintly. Marla is special because she was so deeply human. She had foibles, doubts, sadness and other very human reactions and emotions. Her openness to life allowed her to experience fully the depth and range of human experiences. At the same time, her fundamental motivations and drivers were selfless.

In thinking of Marla in the early years that I knew her, a story that keeps bubbling up to the surface of my memory is a very personal one. I am reminded of the time I visited with her in Washington DC a year or two after she’d interned with me in the Bay Area. She’d started college and was interning at the DC-based office of the Fifty Years is Enough Campaign. I met up with her one night for dinner and a movie. Marla had a gift for looking to those who’d walked a path before her in any and every aspect of life to learn what wisdom they might have to offer. She’d digest what we had to share, find what was useful in it and make her own way. At the time she was falling in love. She described for me how her whole body would tingle when this man was near. She talked about how her skin would burn for hours after, if he so much as barely brushed her in passing. Marla wanted to know what was happening to her. If it was normal. She made me remember what it was like to feel the passion of first love. For me, this memory is symbolic of the passion and open heart that Marla brought to everything she did…love, activism, humanitarian work

Marla walked her own path. Along the way she brightened the lives of many of us. She will be deeply missed. We can honor her memory every day in every action we take if we think about whether this is a humane course of action and one that will make the world a better place. That might mean looking the homeless panhandler in the eye, talking to a neighbor, lobbying an elected official, or saying hello and meaning it to the clerk who is ringing up our groceries. It might mean doing what we have always done, but being ever more attentive to doing so with an open heart, with love and with respect.

While Marla was interning with me and learning more about macroeconomic policy, open-heartness and respect are what I learned from her.

Thank you Marla.

Laura Livoti

Remembering Marla

Remembering Humanitarian Aid Worker & Activist Marla Ruzicka

"On Saturday 28-year-old Marla Ruzicka was killed in a car bombing. She was the founder of the Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict. Since the launch of the so-called war on terror, Marla spent most of her time in Iraq and Afghanistan documenting and recording the casualties of war."

Democracy Now!

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

She did it out of love - NYT 4/21/05

I interviewed many people who were grief-stricken but anxious to share memories of Ms. Ruzicka. None were as eloquent as her dad, Clifford, a civil engineer from Lakeport, Calif. When I asked if he and his wife, Nancy, both rock-solid Republicans, had been surprised by their daughter's intense commitment to humanitarian causes, he said: "No. She's been like that all her life.

"She had this calling and she pursued it with vigor. She didn't do it for political gain or monetary gain. She did it out of love. I think her legacy will be to forever change the attitude of the U.S. government and the U.S. military on how they deal with collateral damage."

Bob Herbert, New York Times

Not In This Alone

I'll start this by thanking Marla for bringing people together. This morning, I called my old friend Christopher to give the news of Marla. We stay in pretty good touch but it had been 6 months and he's in Vermont and I'm in California.

We both met Marla 10 years ago when we were all working on the 50 Years Is Enough Campaign on the IMF and World Bank. Marla was going to the same school I had a few years before, Friends World College. I made an effort to connect with her as a mentor and help however I could, that being the ethic of us FWCies... making us sisters in a small and quirky club.

It was apparent then and again when I met her again 5 years later that she had the fire for justice in her belly, for justice on an international scale in a way few people do. Obviously Marla never stopped campaigning against the international financial institutions, corporate greed, and war against people -- economic, military, all of the above...

The thing about death is, I've learned, you learn from it and from the person who has passed from your life. It turns out that over the years Marla and I met many of the same people... it's a bit odd running into you on this blog when I haven't seen you in months or years. From this loss, I'm learning, though, that it is really important that we not operate in isolation.

Even if we are in Baghdad, we should be in touch with our friends, mentors and partners in the struggle. Even in Oakland we can get isolated in our work and just not spend the time it takes to maintain human contact over time, miles, issues and organizations we work for. Make a phone call a little more frequently, take a hike to get to know someone better and to spend time talking about our struggles, hopes and fears for our work. That's what I'm taking from this now.

Thanks again for inspiring me, Marla.

Cheryl Brown

Marla's Law

"While Americans will never speak with one voice about the U.S. occupation of Iraq, there's no reason for progressives and conservatives alike not to get behind Marla's proposal for the U.S. government to systematically track and study civilian casualties."

Michael Shellenberger

Jennifer Abrahamson - Slate

"Over the past few days I have seen many descriptions of Marla, including those likening her to an angel or a saint. Neither of those words do her justice. She was driven by a passion I have never encountered before, and she had a boundless heart. But she was also consumed by extreme lows as well as highs, tears along with laughter."

Jennifer Abrahamson - Slate

Marla Ruzicka's life and death drew attention to Iraq issues

"'We're talking about a new Iraq,' Ruzicka told CNN in February 2004, 'where there's supposed to be accountability and transparency. Under Saddam, human life didn't count, but now with a new start, every human life [in Iraq] is supposed to count.'"
Philly Inquirer

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Our Heart and Our Conscience

"She was so many things to so many people, but for the journalists who knew and loved her she was, ultimately, our heart and our conscience."

Christopher Allbritton

Marla Ruzicka: 26-Year-Old Doing 'The Right Humanitarian Thing'

"'I decided not to take a position on the war but to try to do the right humanitarian thing,'' the 26-year-old said during a recent trip to San Francisco, before Saddam Hussein was captured. 'No one can heal the wounds that have been inflicted; you just have to recognize that people have been harmed.' "

San Francisco Chronicle

Marla Ruzicka, Presente!!

Marla and I met during Medea Benjamin's Green Party senatorial campaign five years ago. I had signed on as Medea's labor liaison, which meant I had frequent contact with Marla during the course of the campaign. She was a bundle of boundless energy, enthusiasm and optimism - almost always in constant motion. Her radiant smile brought warmth to any room she occupied. Her magnetic personality drew volunteers to the campaign in huge numbers.

When the Bush administration launched its cruel military invasions of Afghanistan and later Iraq, another dimension of Marla took center stage - her deep abiding humanity and compassion for her fellow human beings. After her trips to these war torn countries, she returned to the U.S. with an iron-willed determination to make a difference.

I listened to her reports and passionate appeals and like so many others was moved to help. Marla would not accept rejection. "No" and "can't do" were not in her vocabulary. She would not allow anyone to dismiss her or to trivialize her message. She pursued potential supporters, funders, and members of Congress with relentless resolve.

Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be .... The nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists." Marla was the kind of extremist Dr. King would have embraced. Her passion for social justice was boundless and inspiring to all who came into contact with her.

She has passed us the torch and it is now up to us to carry it on.

Marla Ruzicka, Presente!!

Michael Eisenscher
National Organizer
US Labor Against the War

The Charming Information Sponge

As Marla was just begining her work providing humanitarian aid in war zones, she came to me for advice about doing interviews with the press. As the press secretary for a national organization, I had taught these skills to numerous bigwigs in the movement. But Marla needed the skills, Yesterday! She was already getting calls about her work from media outlets around the world and she felt nervous even on a telephone interview that she might 'say something wrong.'

My advice started as it did with all my trainees. Read "Making the News" by Jason Salzman. This great handbook teaches everything activists need to know about how to get the message out.

Marla devoured this book, and then we held a few lunch meetings where I played a TV reporter and she honed her message. She was quite skillful with staying on topic and never took the bait when 'the reporter' asked a hostile question or tried to knock her off track with a red herring.

My wife and I were in Arizona on a vacation when we received a call telling us of Marla's death. That night we turned on CNN to see if there was any news. Marla was the second story on the International Report. CNN played some footage from a trip with Marla to protect a little girl in Iraq who had lost her family in an explosion. Her interview was devastating as she explained the toll the war had taken on Iraqi civilians and demanded a full acounting of civilian deaths. Marla put a face on the people the US military prefered to dismiss as 'collateral damage.'

Watching that interview, I was so proud of her and what she had given her life for. We cried.

This world is a darker place without Marla.

Oakland, CA


Greetings to Marla’s friends and family,

I am so stunned to read all the tributes pouring in about the short and wonderful life of Marla Ruzicka. I did not know her well, but I remember her as a fabulous, funny, friendly, vivacious and bubbly young person with a huge heart.

Marla worked for me as an intern for a few months in Washington, DC at the 50 Years Is Enough Campaign against the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. She was 19 years old and already knew more about international development issues then many people two or three times her age. For a few years after her internship, I got letters from wonderful places all over the world telling me about her adventures and all of the great work she was doing. I hope that I saved them – I am sure that I will go home this evening and start looking for that correspondence from a young activist.

Marla, I hope that your work continues to inspire young activists all over the world to work for peace and justice. I remember my short time knowing you with great pride.

My love and prayers are with all who loved Marla in this time of sorrow.

Blessed be,

Christopher M. Kaufman, M.Sc.
Executive Director
R.U.1.2? Queer Community Center
Burlington, VT 05402

Monday, April 18, 2005

USA Today - Marla's Last Op-Ed

"In my two years in Iraq, the one question I am asked the most is: 'How many Iraqi civilians have been killed by American forces?' The American public has a right to know how many Iraqis have lost their lives since the start of the war and as hostilities continue."
USA Today

Appreciations from Mainstream Media

Dear Marla,

I met your sweet, young, enthusiastic face as we sat on the floor in a sweltering upstairs room of the Nader 2000 headquarters. We were discussing Medea's run for Senate. You were her campaign manager, fundraiser and all around full-steam ahead go force. I remember being quite taken with your persistence.

This morning I saw your face on the front page of the Chronicle without reading the headline and thought, 'Good for her! She is really out here making a difference and finally getting the recognition she deserves. I compared myself to you and thought that I really should be doing more to make the world a peaceful place. I thought that I'd like to send you an email to commend you on the thoughtful and powerful things you were doing in Iraq. To let you know that random people like me remembered you and were uplifted and heartened for humanity just in the knowledge that you existed.

Later as I read over someone's shoulder I realized you were in the paper because you had been killed. And finally the world was recognizing you.

Although I only knew you briefly, the force of your optimism and dedication to the betterment of the world was palpable and stayed with me. With the recognition of what had happened, I felt a grim sense of despair for mankind. We need fiercely kind spirits like yours - they are so precious in this world. It pains me that your sweet face will no longer light up the of people in Iraq or here at home.

What I do know though is that the light and love that guided you in your peacemaking is still here. In your absence I hope it will become a stronger presence in the hearts of those that you touched.

It has in mine.

Thank you Marla.


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