VietNamNet Bridge – Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange will proceed with their fourth lawsuit against American chemical companies that produced the toxic defoliant sprayed by US forces during the American War.
Volunteers help an AO victim leave the stage after receiving a scholarship during a ceremony that marked the 52nd anniversary of the day that the US began spraying Agent Orange over large swathes of Viet Nam.
Major General Tran Ngoc Tho, head of the Association for Victims of Agent Orange in HCM City, made the announcement last Saturday at a ceremony marking the 52nd anniversary of the day (August 10, 1961) US troops began to spray large parts of Viet Nam with Agent Orange.
Speaking at the ceremony that was telecast live, Tho told the audience of AO victims and officials that the three earlier lawsuits had been rejected with the explanation that there was not enough evidence.
The major general called on AO victims to be patient and wait for victory.
A week before the official ceremony, more than 10,000 people held a rally along with city officials and representatives of many international organizations to encourage people of all strata, as well as domestic and foreign social organisations to continue "sharing the pain" that they suffer.
Tho said that in order to help AO victims, the city plans to open a centre in Xuan Thoi Thuong Commune, Hoc Mon District, that will provide care, treatment, vocational training and rehabilitation services for Agent Orange victims.
Construction of the centre is expected to be completed by the end of this year.
More than 20,000 AO victims from various parts of Viet Nam live in HCM City.
Tho pointed out that over a period of ten years, 86 million litres of Agent Orange and other herbicides were sprayed on Viet Nam. Their impact has been estimated as equivalent to the dropping of 51 atomic bombs akin to those dropped by the US on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.
The toxic defoliant has affected 4.8 million people and resulted in tens of thousands of children being born with deformities, cerebral palsy and various forms of mental illnesses.
In recent years, US has funded a landmark project to clean up a dioxin hotspot – the site of a former U.S. air base in Da Nang in central Viet Nam where the toxic chemical was stored.