"I was really changed by my experiences in Afghanistan. It is a luxury for people to say war is bad when they are in San Francisco. You need to make friends with people in the U.S. government in order to get a change in policy. You can't say something is bad unless you come in with ways to fix it."
Marla Ruzicka and Matt Gonzalez at Laila Carlsen's show, San Francisco City Hall
photo by Gregg Chadwick
The war in Iraq is a senseless accumulation of deaths. Marla Ruzicka, the founder and tireless leader of CIVIC (The Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict) and Faiz Ali Salim, (CIVIC's Iraq Country Director) were just two of the most recent casualties. But for the San Francisco art community these deaths struck home. Marla was good friends with Matt Gonzalez and frequented the art openings in Matt's office at City Hall when she was in town drumming up support for her campaign to account for the civilian deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Marla died on Saturday at the age of 28 in a suicide bomb attack while on the way "to visit an Iraqi child injured by a bomb, part of her daily work of identifying and supporting innocent victims of this war," said CIVIC representative April Pedersen in a statement on the group's Web site.
April Pederson continues, "It is tragically ironic that two beautiful people who devoted their lives to helping innocent victims of war have now become them.There are precious few who have the courage to stand up and demand justice for all the victims of conflict wherever they may be. This troubled world cannot afford to lose people like them.
Marla overflowed with passion and had an incredible sense of obligation to help those less fortunate. She worked tirelessly to push the US military on its responsibility to keep a proper accounting of the consequences of military action on civilians in Iraq."
Marla's funeral will be held on Saturday at 11am in Lakeport's St. Mary's Church, and a memorial service will follow in Washington, D.C. Her father, Clifford Ruzicka, asks that donations in her memory be made to CIVIC at P. O. Box 1189, Lakeport, CA 95453.
Robert Worth in the New York Times reports."On the day she was killed, Ms. Ruzicka was visiting Iraqi families that had lost relatives to the violence here. She sent a text message to a friend saying the stories had been painful to hear.
An American Army officer who arrived on the scene shortly after the bomber struck said that Ms. Ruzicka's car was engulfed in flames, and that she was still alive and conscious.
A medic on the scene treated her, said the officer, Brig. Gen. Karl Horst, and heard her last words.
"I'm alive," she said."
Marla's spirit was captivating. Her vision was clear. And her bravery and willingness to get into the dirt of both war and politics should inspire all of us to continue with our efforts to create peace in our time. Marla's last words ring clear. Marla's spirit, Marla's vision, Marla's bravery and Marla's cause live on.
Marla's Work- The Christian Science Monitor
Marla's Work- The San Francisco Chronicle
Marla Dies in Her Line of Duty- New York Times
Marla : Time