A Vietnamese delegation will take part in the International People’s Tribunal of Conscience’s trial on the lawsuit of Vietnamese Agent Orange/dioxin victims, which is scheduled to be held in Paris, France, from May 15-16.
|Ho Ngoc Chu(L) and Mai Giang Vu at the tribunal|
At a press conference in Hanoi on May 11, the President of the Vietnam Association of Victims of Agent Orange/dioxin (VAVA), Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Van Rinh said that the 14-strong delegation, including three AO victims, three environmental, medical and chemical experts and two lawyers, will attend the trial as witness and victims at the invitation of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL).
After the US courts released unjust verdicts concerning Vietnamese AO victims, the IADL decided to convene a trial to clearly define the consequences of the US chemical war on human beings and the environment in Vietnam as well as the US’s responsibility for compensating the victims.
Several lawyers of international repute from the US, Japan, India and Chile will act as judges and supervisors. Besides Vietnamese, many AO victims from countries that sent soldiers to Vietnam’s battlefields such as the Republic of Korea, New Zealand and Australia have been invited to the event.
The US chemical companies concerned were invited to send representatives to participate in the trial. However if they do not appear, the tribunal will try them in their absence.
At the trial, the tribunal is expected to hear medical and environmental experts from Russia, France, the UK, the US and Vietnam present the results of their scientific studies on the reality of the US chemical war and its legacy.
The Vietnamese delegation will provide specific evidence on the effects of Agent Orange on the environment and to human health so that the tribunal can clarity legal issues regarding the US companies’ responsibility for the victims.
The three Vietnamese AO victims attending the tribunal will be Ho Ngoc Chu from central Quang Ngai province, Mai Giang Vu from Ho Chi Minh City and Pham The Minh from the northern city of Hai Phong.
Ho Ngoc Chu was directly affected by the toxic chemical while in action on the Quang Nam and Quang Ngai battlefields. His son, born in 1977, has been also affected by the toxic chemical.
Born in 1975, Pham The Minh is a second-generation victim, who has lost 81 percent of his health due to his father being contaminated by the chemical during the war. His sister also suffers from heart and lung diseases.
Meanwhile, Mai Giang Vu, a former soldier who had fought for the former Saigon regime and had come into direct contact with the chemical, has been seriously affected, suffering from numerous diseases and the death of three children.
Rinh, who will lead the VAVA delegation to the tribunal, also said that on May 18, the tribunal will consider its verdict and hold a press conference to announce the decision.
According to the VAVA, between 1961 and 1971, US troops sprayed about 80 million litres of toxic chemicals, which contained nearly 400 kg of dioxin, over Vietnam. Consequently, around 4.8 million Vietnamese people were exposed to the deadly toxic chemical and more than 3 million of them are AO victims.