Vietnam supports Agent Orange victims’ fight for justice
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|Vietnam supports Agent Orange/dioxin victims in requesting legal responsibilities from US companies producing and selling the toxic chemical used during the war in Vietnam, stated Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson Le Thi Thu Hang|
In response to reporters’ questions at a regular press conference held online by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on February 4 regarding Vietnam’s view on the lawsuit, Vietnam supports Agent Orange/dioxin victims in requesting legal responsibilities from US companies producing and selling the toxic chemical used during the war in Vietnam, stated Hang.
“We believe that the companies must bear the responsibility in addressing the consequences that Agent Orange/dioxin left on Vietnam,” she said.
Hang underlined that Vietnam has suffered severe war aftermaths, including the long-term and devastated impacts of Agent Orange (AO)/dioxin.
From 1961-1971, US troops sprayed more than 80 million litres of herbicides - 44 million litres of which were AO, containing nearly 370 kilograms of dioxin - over southern Vietnam.
The use of 80 million litres of Agent Orange and other herbicides aimed at destroying tropical forests where Vietnamese soldiers were hiding or using as medical stations and military bases, and damaging crops of farmers.
As a result, around 4.8 million Vietnamese were exposed to the toxic chemical. Many of the victims have died, while millions of their descendants are living with deformities and diseases as a direct result of the chemical’s effects.
Nga, born in 1942, filed the lawsuit in May 2014. Among the companies named in her suit, there are such names as Monsanto (now under the German group Bayer) and Dow Chemical.
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With the support of several non-governmental organisations, Nga accused the companies of causing lasting harm to the health of her, her children and countless others, as well as destroying the environment.
Nga graduated from a Hanoi university in 1966 and became a war correspondent of the Liberation News Agency, now the Vietnam News Agency (VNA). 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 effects herself.
Nga has cancer, Type 2 diabetes, high iodine levels in the blood, hypertension, tuberculosis, genetic abnormalities, and had children born with heart problems, spine issues, severe asthma, and other genetic defects. Among her three children, the first child died of heart defects and the second suffers from a blood disease.
In 2009, Nga, who contracted a number of acute diseases, appeared as a witness at the Court of Public Opinion in Paris, France, against the US chemical companies.
On April 16, 2015, the Crown Court of Evry city held the first hearing on the case.
The trial, opened in France on January 25, has grabbed the attention of local media, which has called it “historic”.
The court's ruling is scheduled on May 10. If the court decides in her favour, Nga would be the first Vietnamese AO/dioxin victim to be compensated.
Agent Orange contains the dioxin TCDD, which medical researchers have linked to cancer, birth defects, and other serious ailments. The US Environmental Protection Agency labels TCDD as a carcinogen. US officials have reportedly linked Agent Orange to elevated rates of Hodgkin’s lymphoma and leukemia among American veterans of the Vietnam War. In a 1984 court case, seven chemical companies behind the manufacturing of Agent Orange agreed to a USD 180 million settlement with US veterans who were exposed to the chemical./.
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