11/08/2010 | 17:50:01

Voices of support for AO victims are raised

Lawyers, scientists and representatives from social organisations have raised their voices against the use of dioxin and asked the US to take responsibility for its behaviour, including legal and moral responsibility.

The request was made at talks on “Agent Orange – message from the heart” held in Ho Chi Minh City on August 9, part of activities in response to Agent Orange Day (August 10).

Scientist Le Thi Ngoc Thanh said the US was aware of dioxin’s harmful effects right from production. Therefore, its deliberate use of dioxin in combination with other chemical weapons such as napalm and white phosphorous bombs showed a serious violation of international laws.

US troops sprayed more than 80 million litres of defoliant in southern Vietnam ’s battlefield 49 years ago and the chemical has caused a long-term effect on many Vietnamese generations. Hundreds of thousands of people were exposed to dioxin, and their children and grandchildren were born with deformities and affected by fatal diseases. The pain has not yet ended.

Lawyer Truong Trong Nghia, Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Bar Federation, said that apart from accelerating the struggle for justice for the victims, it is necessary to implement measures to prevent the transmission of AO chemicals to children, and build care centres, schools and vocational training centres for AO victims to help them integrate into the community.

Doctor Nguyen Thi Ngoc Phuong, Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin (VAVA), said that the struggle for justice for AO victims has made some progress.

The US Government has not yet acknowledged its legal responsibility for dealing with the consequences of the AO chemical but is gradually admitting its responsibility and helping to deal with the problem. The US plans to provide 300 million USD to AO victims in the next 10 years, she said.

Activities to help AO victims have been carried out in localities nationwide. Thanh Hoa and Phu Tho province donated cash, presented gifts, wheel-chairs and computers worth over 2.2 billion VND to the victims. Nam Dinh province provided free health checks and treatment for more than 600 victims in its two districts of Vu Ban and Truc Ninh.

The Vietnam News Agency’s Relief Fund for AO Victims visited and presented gifts worth more than 600 million VND to the victims.

VAVA said domestic and foreign organisations and individuals had by June 2010 donated cash and gifts worth nearly 150 billion VND since the association was founded in 2004. The group used the money to support, build and upgrade houses and establishments caring for AO victims and to provide scholarships to the victims’ children./.

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