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Agent Orange victims association backs Trần Tố Nga’s appeal against French court’s ruling

Update: May, 13/2021 - 08:21

 

This file photo from 2011 shows children suffering from Agent Orange-associated diseases being taken care of at Làng Hoà Bình (Peace Village) at Từ Dũ Hospital, HCM City. — VNA/VNS Photo Dương Ngọc

HÀ NỘI — The Việt Nam Association for Victims of Agent Orange (AO) (VAVA) has said it will provide spiritual and material support to Vietnamese-French campaigner Trần Tố Nga to continue her lawsuit against US firms that manufactured the toxic AO defoliant used by US forces during the war in Việt Nam.

This week, her lawsuit was rejected by the Crown Court of Evry City of France which ruled that the US firms were acting on orders of the US government which was engaged in a “sovereignty act.”

The court said it did not have jurisdiction to judge a case involving the US government's wartime actions.

Senior Lieutenant General Nguyễn Văn Rinh, President of the VAVA, said he is not satisfied with the court’s ruling, saying it is not persuasive considering the fact that US firms had manufactured about 80 million litres of the AO defoliant for US forces to spray in Southern Việt Nam in the 1960s-70s, causing serious environmental and human health consequences.

The VAVA backs Nga’s views and will provide both spiritual and material support for the Vietnamese-French woman to continue her fight for justice, he said.

VAVA Vice President Nguyễn Thị Ngọc Phương said she is not surprised at the Evry court’s decision but felt sad the court did not take into account AO victims in Việt Nam and France.

The lawsuit did not target the US government but the US firms for their irresponsibility, she further explained.

Nga, 79, accuses 14 multinational chemical companies, including herbicide manufacturer Monsanto (now under the Bayer Group of Germany), of supplying the herbicide and defoliant chemical which was used extensively by the US army between 1961-1971 during the war in Việt Nam, causing serious consequences for 4 million people and severely poisoning the environment.

An AO victim herself, Nga has pursued the lawsuit for over a decade, including six years in court.

Nga graduated from a Hà Nội university in 1966 and became a war correspondent of the Liberation News Agency (the predecessor of the current Vietnam News Agency). She worked in some of the most heavily AO/dioxin affected areas in southern Việt Nam, such as Củ Chi, Bến Cát, and along the Hồ Chí Minh Trail, ultimately experiencing contamination herself. She has been suffering from a number of acute diseases.

Trần Tố Nga. — VNA/VNS Photo

Of her three children, the first died of heart defects and the second suffers from a blood disease. A grandchild of Nga also suffers from AO-related illnesses.

With the support of several non-governmental organisations, she filed a lawsuit against US companies for causing lasting harm to the health of herself, her children, and countless others, and for destroying the environment.

The case was taken on by French court as Nga, now 79 years old, became a French citizen in the 90s. — VNS