An organization of Vietnamese-French youths and Vietnamese students marched together in the downtown of Paris on May Day to support victims of Agent Orange, Tuoi Tre newspaper reported Tuesday.
The participants presented many touching photos of the victims of the defoliant, which was used by the US army in the Vietnam War and contains high levels of dioxin, a carcinogen and toxic environmental pollutant.
They also handed out leaflets about the victims’ lawsuit against the US manufacturers of the deadly herbicide, as well as collected hundreds of supportive signatures from the audience, the report said.
Studies by American scientists estimate that US forces sprayed some 80 million liters of defoliants, mostly Agent Orange, in Vietnam between 1961 and 1971 while searching for Vietnamese troops hiding in jungles.
It amounted to nearly 400kg of dioxin, one of the world’s most stable and toxic substances, which remains to this day in the human population and ecosystem.
Of over 4.8 million locals exposed to the dioxin, 3 million were affected and many of them – and, a generation later, even their children and grandchildren – suffer from cancer and genetic abnormalities.
A US court dismissed in March 2005 a lawsuit filed by the Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin on behalf of all Vietnamese nationals exposed to Agent Orange and other toxic chemicals.
The judge cited a lack of legal basis to be heard in court. The plaintiffs have filed an appeal.
On the other hand, in 1984 the seven major manufacturers of Agent Orange came to an out-of-court settlement to pay $180 million to US veterans affected by the dioxin in Vietnam.
Besides, the US Congress passed a bill in 1991 to provide disability payments to veterans suffering from soft-tissue sarcoma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma associated with Agent Orange exposure.
It passed another bill in 1996 to provide benefits to the children of veterans born with spina bifida, an often severe birth defect affecting the nervous system, again related to exposure to the dioxin.
In the Republic of Korea, the Supreme Court ruled for the first time last month that US chemical suppliers owed damages of some US$62 million to Korean Agent Orange victims. Korean troops had fought on the side of the US in Vietnam.
Source: Tuoi Tre – Translated by The Vinh