Nhân Dân: Justice trampled upon by the us supreme court’s decision

The US Supreme Court on March 2, 2009 announced its decision to refuse a review of petitions lodged by Vietnamese Agent Orange victims against US chemical manufacturing companies for their producing the toxic chemical used by the US Army during the Vietnam war. Once again, equality and justice reserved for the Agent Orange/Dioxin victims in Vietnam are not respected.

The US chemical warfare coded the “Ranch Hand Campaign” against Vietnam began from 1961 to 1971. This is the longest, cruelest war, causing the heaviest losses to humans, nature and environment in Vietnam. The effects and consequences of Agent Orange have still been passed from generation to generation. Nature and the environment continue to be destroyed. Within those ten years, the US Army had carried out 19,905 sorties, spraying about 80 million litres of herbicides and as a result, over three million people had been victimised. On the other hand, many American and international scientists had proved that the Agent Orange/Dioxin was the toxic chemical, not merely the herbicide.

At present, millions of Vietnamese Agent Orange victims are wrestling with their daily lives because of the effects of the US toxic chemical, whereas their eco-environment has been badly destroyed. Pains, poverty and diseases are constantly tormenting their lives. Many of them have died without having received any assistance from those who had been the cause of their misery. It is because of this that Vietnamese Agent-Orange victims lodged the lawsuit against 37 US chemical producers to the US Supreme Court. But they have received only the wrong and regrettable decisions so far. On the contrary, the Vietnamese Government has done everything it can to give its material and spiritual help to their Agent Orange victims so that they could overcome by themselves their own difficulties and improve their lives. On the other hand, the Vietnamese Government has issued a lot of policies to assist these victims, while other Vietnamese social and humanitarian organisations have held a wide range of practical activities to support these victims.

Only a few hours after the US Supreme Court’s decision on the above-said issue, American lawyer Jonathan Moore who is lead counsel for the Vietnam Association of Victims of Agent Orange (VAVA) in the lawsuit against 37 US companies that produced the toxic chemical said he was very sad to hear this decision, further confirming that the struggle must continue until justice for all those who were victimised by the US Government’s campaign of chemical warfare during the Vietnam War is achieved. Ms Merle Ratner, co-ordinator of the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief and Responsibility Campaign said: “As a US citizen, I am outraged that the Supreme Court has refused justice for the more than 3 million Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange as well as to Agent Orange affected by US veterans whose suit was also denied review”.

“However, the VAVA lawsuit has produced unprecedented public support both in the US and internationally for justice and compensation for Vietnam’s Agent Orange victims. Americans will keep on fighting for justice and for full compensation for the victims and clean up of the hot spots” – Ms Merle Ratner further said.

On May 15, 2008, for the first time the Agent Orange issue was brought to the hearing at the Asia Pacific and the Global Environment Subcommittee of the US House of Representatives. So what the USA should and must do is to give back the right to live, equality and justice to the Vietnamese Agent Orange victims!

By Tran Dinh Chinh