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Agent Orange lawsuit: A plaintiff one million victims

Hannah Nguyen Hannah Nguyen

ngminhphuong26@gmail.com

May 10, 2021 | 10:51

Ton Nu Thi Ninh, Vice President of the Vietnam Peace Committee and President of the HCM City Peace and Development Foundation under the city's Union of Friendship Organisations (HUFO), stressed the must for persistence of a lawsuit against the US companies that provided the chemical toxins used by the US army during the war in Vietnam.

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Agent Orange Lawsuit: A plaintiff one million victims
Some participants in the roundtable talk in HCM City on May 8. Photo: VNA

Participanting in a roundtable talk, Ninh and many other, affirmed the resolve to continue the fight for justice for Agent Orange (AO)/ dioxin victims of Vietnam regardless of the court’s rulings, reported VNA.

The talk in Ho Chi Minh City was among activities of a project calling for support for Nga’s legal action. She attended the event from France via videoconferencing.

After the lawsuit against the US chemical companies filed by the Vietnam Association for Victims of AO (VAVA) in 2004 had not ended with a desired result, Nga, born in 1942, sued these firms in the Crown Court of France’s Evry city in 2014.

The court opened a hearing on this case on January 25 this year and is expected to issue the verdict on May 10.

Nga graduated from a Hanoi university in 1966 and became a war correspondent of the Liberation News Agency. She worked in some of the most heavily AO/dioxin affected areas in southern Vietnam, such as Cu Chi, Ben Cat, and along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, ultimately experiencing contamination herself.

Of her three children, the first died of heart defects and the second suffers from a blood disease. She has also contracted a number of acute diseases.

With the support of several non-governmental organisations, she accused the companies of causing lasting harm to the health of herself, her children, and countless others, and of destroying the environment.

Talking via videoconference, Nga, who is currently in France, said regardless of the rulings to be issued by the court, the 10-year struggle will still continue, noting that she and her friends have been prepared to keep going for many more years.

The strength of justice and the truth will win, she stated.

Used to be a plaintiff in the VAVA’s 2004 lawsuit in the US, VAVA Vice President Nguyen Thi Ngoc Phuong said though the previous lawsuit did not come to a success, it has left a great impact on the people in the US and the world as a whole.

The fight for justice will continue, she went on, expressing her belief in final victory. She stressed that this is a historic lawsuit and its win will become a legal precedent for AO/dioxin victims in Vietnam and other countries to seek justice for themselves.

Agent Orange Lawsuit: A plaintiff one million victims
An exhibition highlighting the pain of Vietnamese Agent Orange/dioxin victims and the lawsuit filed by Tran To Nga, a Vietnamese French woman, against multinational companies for producing and selling chemical toxins sprayed by US forces in the war in Vietnam, is being held in Ho Chi Minh City from May 8-13. Source: VNA

Truong Trong Nghia, Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Bar Federation, pointed out that compared to the 2004 lawsuit in the US, Nga’s lawsuit has certain advantages, elaborating that the French court on January 25 announced that it has the power and legal ground to deal with this case.

Besides, a recent lawsuit against a chemical company filed by a farm worker who was exposed to herbicide in France ended in the worker’s favour. This precedent is favourable for Nga’s case.

People in France also support and hope that Nga will win in her lawsuit, Nghia added.

Ton Nu Thi Ninh, Vice President of the Vietnam Peace Committee and President of the HCM City Peace and Development Foundation, stressed the must for persistence since the purpose is not only to seek compensation but also to force the US side to admit the truth and its responsibility.

So far, more than four million Vietnamese people have been exposed to AO/dioxin while 100,000 children have suffered from deformities. The AO causes lasting harms to humans and the environment. Scientists found that this substance not only affects the ones exposed to it but also many following generations, depending on its concentration in the body, according to Vu Thi Quyen, a lecturer in biology at the Van Lang University.

Agent Orange lawsuit: A plaintiff one million victims
Photos and documents also describe the progress of the lawsuit, legal and scientific foundations, the companionship and support of friends around the world, and AO victims for the lawsuit. Source: Dan Tri

On the occasion, an exhibition highlighting the pain of Vietnamese AO/dioxin victims and the lawsuit filed by Nga, is being held in Ho Chi Minh City from May 8-13.

The event is jointly organised by the Tre (Youth) Publishing House, Tuoi Tre (Youth) Newspaper and Duong Sach Co., Ltd. in HCM City.

On display are over 100 documents, photos, illustrations selected from the documents of newspapers, witnesses, researches, and the War Remnants Museum, which depict the entire information and statistics on long-term effects of AO/dioxin on humans, nature, and the environment.

Many images help visitors understand more about the AO herbicide containing toxic dioxin, which has left devastating impacts on millions of Vietnamese.

Many photos and documents also describe the progress of the lawsuit, legal and scientific foundations, the companionship and support of friends around the world, and AO victims for the lawsuit.

The organisers said that visitors can scan QR codes on each document and image at the exhibition to get more information from the archives, thus helping them better understand about the chemical and the lawsuit./.

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Hannah Nguyen