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Vietnamese Delegation in U.S. to Sue Chemical Companies for Ongoing Effects of Agent Orange Frida

by : Joëlle
Sunday June 24, 2007 - 13:32

Vietnamese Delegation in U.S. to Sue Chemical Companies for Ongoing Effects of Agent Orange

Friday, June 22nd, 2007 http://www.democracynow.org/article...

U.S. warplanes dumped about 18 million gallons of Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. The Vietnamese government says this has left more than 3 million people disabled. We speak with two Vietnamese Agent Orange victims and their lawyers about how the toxin has affected their lives and why they’re suing over three dozen U.S. chemical companies who manufactured it. [includes rush transcript]

President Bush is meeting with Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet in Washington today. It is the first visit by a Vietnamese president to the White House since the Vietnam War. So far President Triet’s trip has focused largely on trade and human rights, but he is expected to bring up an issue today that still lingers from the war – the American military’s use of Agent Orange.

U.S. warplanes dumped about 18 million gallons of the poisonous dioxin during the Vietnam War. The Vietnamese government says this has left more than three million people disabled.Earlier this week a delegation of Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange traveled to New York, where they are suing over three dozen chemical companies for manufacturing the toxin. The list of companies being sued include Dow Chemical and Monsanto. Two of the victims visited our Firehouse studio and described how Agent Orange has affected their lives. Nguyen Thi Hong was exposed to Agent Orange in 1964. She gave birth prematurely to three underweight children, one of whom had a congenital heart defect. She was found to have cancer of the left breast. In addition, she also has cerebral anemia, bone metastasis, cirrhosis, gallstones and bladder-stones, varicose limbs, limb-skin ulcer, weak legs and limited range of movement. Nguyen Muoi wasn’t born until after the war ended but has also been affected by Agent Orange. His father was a farmer who served as a cook in Aluoi Valley, a ‘hot spot’ where Agent Orange was stored. I asked them to describe how the dioxin has affected them.

Nguyen Muoi and Nguyen Thi Hong, Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange who are both plaintiffs in a lawsuit against over three dozen U.S. chemical companies. Merle Ratner, co-coordinator of the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief & Responsibility Campaign. Jonathan Moore, attorney for plaintiffs in Agent Orange lawsuit. RUSH TRANSCRIPT

This transcript is available free of charge. However, donations help us provide closed captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing on our TV broadcast. Thank you for your generous contribution. Donate - $25, $50, $100, more...

AMY GOODMAN: President Bush is meeting with Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet in Washington, D.C., today. It’s the first visit by a Vietnamese president to the White House since the Vietnam War. So far, President Triet’s trip has focused largely on trade and human rights, but he is expected to bring up an issue today that still lingers from the war: the US military’s use of Agent Orange.

US warplanes dumped about 18 million gallons of the poisonous dioxin during the Vietnam War. The Vietnamese government says this has left more than three million people disabled. Earlier this week, a delegation of Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange traveled to New York. Some testified in federal court. They’re suing over three dozen chemical companies for manufacturing the toxin. The list of companies being sued includes Dow Chemical and Monsanto.

Two of the victims visited our Firehouse studio and described how Agent Orange has affected their lives. Nguyen Thi Hong was exposed to Agent Orange in 1964. She gave birth prematurely to three underweight children, one of whom had a congenital heart defect. She suffers from cancer and cirrhosis and other maladies. Nguyen Muoi wasn’t born until after the war ended, but has also been affected by Agent Orange. His father was a farmer who served as a cook in a ‘hot spot’ where Agent Orange was stored. I asked them to describe how the dioxin has affected them.

NGUYEN THI HONG: [translated] So from 1964 to 1990, I was pregnant for six times, and I gave birth six times. But I managed to have four births, and I had two miscarriages. Of the four children, one of them is suffering from heart disease, inborn heart disease, and his memory, he’s mentally retarded.

In 1990, I became very sick. At the beginning, I was suffering from some kind of liver pain, and I had to be hospitalized. The doctors told me I had some kind of liver cancer. And through some period of medical treatment, well, they say that, you know, the spleen was — there was something wrong with the spleen. It became bad, and that’s why, you know, they cannot maintain the spleen, and so I had a surgery. It was removed. The spleen was removed.

In 1997, the doctors from other countries, international doctors, took a blood test in the blood center, and they gave a blood test. In 2000, we got the results of the test. They confirmed and concluded that I am affected with dioxin.

In 2002, I had breast cancer, and I had a surgery, and the breast was removed. Well, as a result of the findings, the doctor mentioned to me that I was suffering from cancer and it is the terminal period, and I’m suffering from the aftermath of the cancer, and it’s now going to my bones. And I was subjected to some chemotherapy. And I was suffering something from the bones in the backbones, as well as on my head. So from 1990 up to now, I’m suffering from a terrible skin disease.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn now to Nguyen Muoi to tell your experience.

NGUYEN MUOI: [translated] I had three older sisters, then another brother, and then a miscarriage, and then me. My mother gave birth to me, and I was very small at birth. They called me the thinny boy. And later on, my father was suffering from stomach ache. Three-thirds [sic] of the stomach was removed. And he also suffers from the pain in half of his head and pain in all the joints, hands and legs. Very difficult for him to breathe. And his eyesight is very weak. So, in general, he’s very weak physically.

In 2000, I was beginning to feel that there was some kind of very terrible pain in my back, and I was given some kind of medical treatment. And the doctor told me that I was suffering from spinal bifida. And then I had to quit school for medical treatment. But as a result of the medical treatment, I didn’t feel that the pain in my back reduced. And to my sadness, the doctor told me that I am suffering from dioxin.

AMY GOODMAN: Nguyen Muoi and Nguyen Thi Hong, two Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange. They’re both plaintiffs in a lawsuit against over three dozen US chemical companies. I also spoke with their lawyer, Jonathan Moore, and Merle Ratner. She is co-coordinator of the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief & Responsibility Campaign. I began by asking Merle Ratner why she’s brought these Vietnamese victims to the United States.

MERLE RATNER: We’ve brought them here, because the time for justice and compensation for Vietnam’s Agent Orange victims is long overdue. More than thirty years after the war, the US has still not given a single dime in actual compensation to heal the wounds of war, to have these people get treatment, to clean up the hot spots, and to rebuild their lives and to take care of their children, which are now going to the third generation of some really disabled children.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain the scope of the problem.

MERLE RATNER: More than three million Vietnamese people are suffering from Agent Orange-related illness, and we’re into the fourth generation now of children who were not even alive during the war, who are being born with the most horrendous birth defects. And we have a national campaign led by veterans, Vietnamese Americans and other concerned people, that’s saying we’re going to demand that both the chemical companies who made and profited from the Agent Orange and the US government, which ordered it sprayed, harming so many Vietnamese and also American veterans, who are also taking up the struggle, compensate them for their losses and for their futures, taking care of their children.

AMY GOODMAN: What companies?

MERLE RATNER: It has been Dow, Monsanto, Hercules, Diamond Shamrock, and some thirty other companies. The two biggest companies are Dow Chemical and Monsanto, who are still involved in poisoning the land and the water with their byproducts in India and in the US, but their biggest crimes were in Vietnam. continue : http://www.democracynow.org/article...



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