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Marla Ruzicka: Civilian Victims of War (UPDATE)

One year ago -- April 16, 2005 -- a suicide terrorist murdered Marla Ruzicka in Bagdad, a young woman from California, who was working to get aid to Iraqi civilians accidentally harmed by U.S. military operations. Sarah Holewinsky, the executive director of Marla's NGO Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict (CIVIC) writes in the Washington Post:
Congress created the Marla Ruzicka Iraqi War Victims Fund and a similar fund for Afghanistan, with a total to date of $38 million for families and communities of those injured and killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. This program, coupled with our larger humanitarian aid in Iraq (the community action program) is building a post-Saddam Hussein society through small-business loans, education for orphans, new homes for displaced families and other projects. (...)
The brutality of the insurgency has also made it much harder for humanitarian workers such as Marla to help victims of war in most parts of the country. Worse, in some areas insurgents have threatened to kill Iraqis who accept help from Americans. Although experienced military officers have learned that treating civilians well is critical to their mission, the U.S. search for an exit strategy may encourage tactics that put civilians at greater risk -- including more reliance on airstrikes to target insurgents. (...) With increasing airstrikes, U.S. military planners must also do more to assess the risk to civilians before launching attacks, and should include in post-attack reports any available information on civilian casualties. The current lack of data makes the improvement of those procedures difficult. (
HT: David from Dialog International)
CNN video of Marla in Iraq.
Our related posts on Marla's work: Young US humanitarian activist killed in Iraq and Marla Ruzicka, civilian victims and reconciliation.

UPDATE: After the terrorist attacks in London on July 7, 2005 the photo campaign We're not Afraid ("Show the world that we are not afraid of what happened in London, and that the world is a better place without fear.") became an internet phenomenon, followed by Sorry Everybody after the 2004 elections.
Now Marla's NGO started a new photo campaign I care, which is worth participating:

This photo campaign is not about being for or against the war. It is a campaign of compassion. Every day, ordinary women, children, and men are caught in the crossfire. We believe that civilian casualties are the most tragic consequences of war. And each injury, destroyed home, and death should be given the weight it deserves. Please join our campaign and send a loud and clear message to our leaders as well as to the people of Iraq and Afghanistan. All over the world... We are watching. We stand in solidarity. We care.

UPDATE II: Obviously we care about civilian casualties in Israel, Palestine and elsewhere as well. The Jerusalem Post writes about the latest terror victims in Israel (via Elder of Ziyon via Israpundit). YNet News has a series of profiles of some of the victims (via Salomonia). More at Crossing the Rubicon2 and A Blog for All.


Atlantic Review on : "Sweet Relief" - A New Book about Humanitarian Activist Marla Ruzicka

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Various search engines continue to send many readers to the Atlantic Review's past posts about Marla Ruzicka, which indicates that there is fortunately still a lot of interest in this "youthful representative of a certain kind of not-yet-lost Americ


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Angel on :

..Aiding civilian victims of war...many sad realities about fighting for freedom..this being one of the saddest. thank u for sharing.

Annamarie Deneen on :

Thank you for sharing. I had posted about her some time ago, but sadly, this time I did forget. I've been busy with aiding the Mohawk Six Nations Clan Mothers in their struggle to keep a developer off their land. Our Governments are siding with the developer, and negotiations have broken down. They were held in secret, without inviting the People who should have been present. There's also been a total MSM blackout. The word ONLY gets out on a couple blogs, mine being one of the main ones. The People have been camped out in the cold and mud at the site. They are women and children, and now some supporters. They are in need of supplies. I'm going tomorrow (Easter Sunday) with some items that I collected from my house, family, friends. This has kept me too busy to remember about Marla and her tragic death. Thank you for reminding me in your emails. Much appreciated! BTW, you can find out details about the Six Nations struggle on my blog. Take care and best regards to all, and also a happy Easter! Peace, annamarie d.

Howard Roberts on :

it is tremendously sad about the death of this compassionate women. She is more than just a victim of George Bush's imperial war, she is a symbol of the desire of humans to avoid the killling of innocent people. In true celebration of the life and service of this women we should confront the evil of all terrorism-both cell and state. A truly profound and fitting tribute to Maria's quest for peace is to implement an exit strategy that will end this conflict. Any person who is looking for this I would suggest they check my blog: sevenpointman Some real soul searching and keen analyses of the situation can lead to a more peaceful Iraq. Isn't this really what Maria, wanted ?

Brigitte on :

FYI On 17 April in Berlin Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier issued the following statement: "The Federal Government condemns in the strongest terms today's suicide bombing in Tel Aviv. I urgently appeal to the new Palestinian Government to fulfil its international obligations to disarm terrorist groups and destroy the terrorist infrastructure. It would be a disastrous start for the new Government if it fails to take a clear and firm stand against terrorist acts. The calculations of the terrorists must be proved wrong. All sides are called upon to exercise restraint both now and in the future. Our thoughts and sympathy are with the families of those who perished. To those who were injured we wish a full and speedy recovery."

Howard Roberts on :

Brigitte- it seems that politicians are easily swayed by events, that on the ground are portrayed as one-sided. With this side being the one they politically support. In this statement there is no mention of the multiple acts of state terrorism by the Israeli defense forces against Palestinian civilians. I am not doubting the horror and international illegality of suicide bombings, but I am also calling for a balanced coverage of the incidents that happen in the Occupied territories every day. All actions which kill, maim, oppress, and destroy property, should be reported. These actions should not be seen as justified defense against terrorism, of either stripe, but as unjusified criminal actions of terrorism.

Brigitte on :

I would not call it "state terrorism", but negligence. Yes, we need balanced coverage: THE WAR IN CONTEXT writes "Suicide bombing is undoubtedly horrific, yet the grossly distorted American news coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict again conjures up an image of carnage striking Israelis with the unpredictability of lightening. Perhaps if the media had given more attention to the fact that Israel has been firing as many as 300 shells a day into Gaza in recent weeks, or that so far this month 28 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank and Gaza, or that during the course of the intifada that began in September 2000, more than 160 Palestinian children under 12 years old have been killed and the total number of Palestinians killed exceeds 3,800 - perhaps if any of these statistics had been deemed worthy of more attention, then the latest suicide bombing would seem no less horrific, yet certainly less shocking."

Brigitte on :

Another Civilian Victim! Guardian,,329455652-103552,00.html "The Israeli government said yesterday it would continue its bombardment of northern Gaza with an estimated 300 shells a day despite international criticism over the death of a young girl. Shaul Mofaz, the defence minister who is touring Israel's borders with Gaza, said: "As long as it's not quiet here [in Israel], it won't be quiet there [in Gaza]."

Howard Roberts on :

Brigitte- Thank you for your perceptive comments and your mentioning some statistics that uncovered military assualts by Israel. I am a bit perturbed by your calling Israel's actions "negligence". This term applies to someone who forgets to lock a door in a gym-and somebody breaks in and steals equipment and ransacks the property. Not an organized and systematic oppression of 3 million people over fifty or more years-which includes assasination, blowing up houses, false arrest, torture, use of chemical weapons, blockage of travel,etc. All despicable examples of terrorism consciously practiced by the Israeli government. Stand with me in the memory of Maria Ruzicka in denouncing these actions.

Jorg on :

@ Howard, Israel and Palestine is very complex and I can't respond much to your comments due to lack of time and space. I do appreciate your comments, though.

Eddie on :

Marla and other volunteers for organizations like CIVIC often are the conscience of our military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.... and remembering the warm words of praise and admiration soldiers and Marines had for Marla's work, I think their work is of great benefit, so long as it doesn't degenerate into an anti-military attitude that hinders and poisions relations between CIVIC-style volunteers and their military counterparts.

Jorg on :

@ Eddie, thanks for your comments. I guess some anti-war groups were or are tempted to abuse her work for some anti-military activities, but I have not seen any such cases. I think Marla's relationship with the military was benefitial for all sides. In our previous post on Marla [url][/url] we linked to a Rolling Stone article, which quotes a friend of Marla: [quote=Rolling Stone : The Girl Who Tried to Save the World] She was seeing one of the military shrinks in the Green Zone, who was extremely helpful, and she was thrilled that she'd found him. And she's doing all this while she's trying to help these families -- to me that was so impressive. It was a daily struggle, [but] she got up every morning and got out and helped these people. [/quote] [url][/url] Since you are in the Navy and care a lot about Darfur: Perhaps you care to read our post "Why is Abu Ghraib a cover story again, but not Darfur?", which refers to Brian Steidle, a former U.S. Marine captain, was a member of the African Union team monitoring the conflict in Darfur, where he took hundreds of photographs documenting atrocities. [url][/url]

Eddie on :

I thought that was an excellent post which dealt with German media in a tough but fair manner. I sincerely apoligize for not discussing it on my blog when you first brought it to my attention. I will rectify that by linking to that post in my next segment on Darfur tommorrow. Marla was a wonderful individual who has left behind an important legacy for others to follow in existing conflict zones and future sectors of suffering. As always, even with "pro-military" groups, there is a potential for some to abuse the honor of individuals who sacrificed (tragically for a few, their lives) to help others by pursuing idealogical agendas. We saw this once again with Jill Carroll's kidnapping and release.

Jorg on :

@ Angel, Annamarie, Brigitte: THANK YOU for all your comments.

M on :

I hear there is a book coming out this fall about Marla and her life, does anyone know what the title of that book will be?

JW-Atlantic Review on :

Sweet Relief: The Marla Ruzicka Story By Jennifer Abrahamson, who was a close friend of Marla. You can pre-order the book at [b][url=] in the US[/url][/b] or at [b][url=] in Germany[/url][/b]

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