US to Help VN Overcome Dioxin Legacy

The US Congress will spend money on helping Viet Nam overcome long-lasting toxic effects of defoliants called Agent Orange, sprayed by the US army during the Viet Nam War, said an envoy from the US House of Representatives’ Committee on Appropriations.
 
Speaking at a press conference in Ha Noi on Sunday, special envoy Tim Rieser said money would be disbursed in 2007 to clean “hot spots” and support Agent Orange victims.

At the press conference, some American veterans said it was easier for the US’s Viet Nam veterans with exposure to Agent Orange to get compensations than Vietnamese people. However, this would be done for Vietnamese victims after all, they said.

Widespread support for victims

Agent Orange victim Tran Thi My Quyen speaks at Sunday's gathering in Ho Chi Minh City (Photo: SGGP)

Also on Sunday, more than 200 people, both foreign and Vietnamese, attended a gathering named “Friends all over the world are standing by Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange” in Ho Chi Minh City.

A special participant was Len Aldis, secretary of the Britain-Vietnam Friendship Society, who in March 2004 launched a website to support Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange at www.petitiononline.com/AOVN/petition.html.

The website, whose title is ‘Justice for Victims of Agent Orange’, calls for support for the victims. By the Sunday afternoon, over 696,000 signatures had seen on the website.

Mr. Aldis, 76, who has spent many years raising funds and calling for support for the victims, said his contributions were so small compared with suffering by more than four million Agent Orange victims in Viet Nam.

Among foreigners who have made substantial contributions to the victims are Japanese professor Bunro Fujimoto, who created the Negaukai Society in Japan to assist the victims, and Japanese photographer Goro Nakamura.

With cameras, Mr. Nakamura has traveled across Viet Nam over the past 30 years to take pictures of the war and its aftermath. He has taken more than 35,000 photos and held many exhibitions in his nation, Republic of Korea, the US and other countries to show what Agent Orange has caused in Viet Nam.

At the Sunday gathering in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnamese professor Ngo Thanh Nhan, collaborator of an assistance campaign for AO victims, said the campaign’s symbol was an orange knot calling for justice for AO victims not only in Viet Nam but also in the US, RoK, New Zealand and Australia.

Mr. Nhan added as part of the campaign, press conferences would be held in 10-20 big cities in the US soon, ahead of the next hearing of a lawsuit filed by Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange against American chemical companies that produced the highly toxic defoliants. The next hearing is set for April 2007 in New York.

Related article
Congratulations on the Happiness of Most Renowned AO Victim

By staff writers – Translated by Minh Tuong

Other news