Belgium – Vietnam Association Supports Victims of Agent Orange

The get-together to support victims of Agent Orange in Vietnam, held by the Belgium-Vietnam Association in Brussels, attracted the participation of the overseas Vietnamese and Belgian friends with fond feelings for Vietnam.
October 17, 2021 | 21:51

The Belgium-Vietnam Association recently held a get-together to support victims of dioxin/Agent Orange in Vietnam and an exhibition on the Vietnam Wars. The event was attended by Tran To Nga, a French Vietnam Agent Orange victim who fought with U.S. chemical firms that manufactured dioxin during the Vietnam war to find justice for dioxin victims.

The event also attracted the participation of Belgian friends who love Vietnam and overseas Vietnamese who studied in Belgium between 1970 and 1980.

Belgium – Vietnam Association Supports Victims of Agent Orange
Tran To Nga recalling her journey to lodge lawsuits against 26 U.S. firms that produced and supplied Agent Orange defoliant for use in the Vietnam wars. Photo: Vietnam+

A documentary titled “Agent Orange: Time bomb” by Ho Thuy Tien and Laurent Lindebrings, which depicts the struggle of the Vietnamese people living in the intoxicated areas, was screened at the event.

The documentary left a deep impression on the viewers. Astrid Vanden Elshaut, a young Belgian, said “I cannot stop crying as I watch the documentary. I did not know anything about Agent Orange before this event, but now I feel I need to be more supportive of the fight for justice for Agent Orange victims.”

Belgium – Vietnam Association Supports Victims of Agent Orange
Tran To Nga introducing her book “Ma Terre Empoisonnée" (my poisoned land). Photo: Vietnam+

The attendants also listened to Tran To Nga as she recalled her journey to file lawsuits against 26 U.S. firms for manufacturing Agent Orange defoliant, which was used by the U.S. military during the Vietnam war.

Nga received support from Attorney William Bourdon of the William Bourdon and Associates Law Firm, president of the International Committee of Support for Victims of Agent Orange in Vietnam André Bouny and the Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin (VAVA).

Belgium – Vietnam Association Supports Victims of Agent Orange
The documentary “Agent Orange: Time bomb” was screen at the event in Brussels. Photo: Vietnam+

The Belgium – Vietnam Association has also been supporting Nga and the VAVA via activities such as awarding scholarships for children who are victims of Agent Orange and making a proposal to the Belgian parliament on Agent Orange.

President of Belgium – Vietnam Association Pierre Grega said “we have been striving to aid victims of Agent Orange in Vietnam to relieve some burdens they have been shouldering and continue to aid Tran To Nga in her quest to get the rights of dioxin victims recognized.”

Belgium – Vietnam Association Supports Victims of Agent Orange
Tran To Nga expressing her determination to fight for justice for Agent Orange victims, including herself. Photo: Vietnam News Agency

The event marked the first time Nga went to Belgium to talk about Agent Orange/dioxin. She received strong support from Belgian friends, overseas Vietnamese and the Embassy of Vietnam in Belgium.

Nga underlined that while she was old and had been carrying serious health conditions, she believed justice would prevail with support from the international community.

Tran To Nga, 79, has French and Vietnamese nationalities. She is a victim of Agent Orange/dioxin and has spent over 10 years fighting for justice for Agent Orange victims, including a lawsuit that spanned over 6 years.

She remains the only person who can represent victims of Agent Orange/dioxin to lodge lawsuits against the U.S. firms upon fulfilling 3 requirements, namely a French citizen of Vietnamese origin, living in the sole country that allows for international lawsuits to protect French citizens against the harms caused by another country, and a victim of Agent Orange/dioxin.

In 2009, the U.S. Federal District Court in Brooklyn, New York, rejected the lawsuit by VAVA against 37 U.S. firms that produced dioxin used by the U.S. in the Vietnam War.

Following this, Tran To Nga filed a lawsuit to the Evry Court in 2014 to sue 26 U.S. chemical firms.

The Evry Court rejected Nga’s lawsuit on May 10, 2021, citing the lack of jurisdiction to judge the actions of a foreign country with sovereignty rights under the country’s wartime “defensive policies” as the main reason. However, Nga affirmed that she would not give up on the lawsuit.

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