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Jul-13-2011 02:55printcomments

Act now on Agent Orange

So far, we have failed, and we have to admit it, but we have a unique chance to make a statement now.

Agent Orange victims are seen at a hospice in Vietnam's central Da Nang City June 16.
Agent Orange victims are seen at a hospice in Vietnam's central Da Nang City June 16.

(LONDON) - When I land at the airport in Ho Chi Minh City on July 29, I know I will be met by friends who have suffered a great wrong. They are the victims who have fought an ongoing battle against one of the world’s most egregious crimes: the dumping of 80 million litters of toxic defoliants over southern Vietnam.

I look forward to meeting them each time I visit this great country.

They are children saddled with crippling deformities and life-threatening illnesses. But they are also parents and grandparents who must provide round-the-clock care to these children. Let us not forget the brothers and sisters of the victims. They too must grow up amidst the painful struggle that this legacy has spawned.

In my 22 years of visiting this beautiful country, I have come to befriend thousands of victims. I think, particularly, of the youngsters, born years after the spraying and the war ended. In my opinion there cannot be a greater crime than to ignore such a legacy.

The evil legacy of Agent Orange has entered into the fourth generation and casualties have run into the millions.

But now, as the 50th anniversary of the dawn of the chemical campaign nears, I believe it is time to act.

On August 8, 9 and 10 stake-holders will meet in Hanoi to discuss the future of this terrible chapter in history. Advocates, who continue to push the American chemical compa-nies and the US government to accept responsibility for the indiscriminate production and use of Agent Orange, will be at the meeting.

So far, we have failed, and we have to admit it.

But we have a unique chance to make a statement now.

As a long-time friend to Vietnam and its victims, I can only recommend that the people of Ho Chi Minh City should petition the local authorities to close down the offices of Monsanto and Dow Chemical. I would ask that these offices remain closed until the companies compensate the victims, and their families.

During my visits to Vietnam and to it many provinces, I have met countless victims of this dastardly poison who are living in abject poverty. Many of these communities lack adequate hospitals, clinics and care centers.

Vietnam cannot solve this problem alone. It needs international support and aid to overcome this terrible legacy.

What can we, as friends of Vietnam, do outside of the country?

We can, and should demand an international embargo on all products created by the companies that manufactured Agent Orange. Monsanto and Dow Chemical reaped unimaginable profits from churning out this poison. It is time they paid that money to the victims.

This article was originally published by: Thanh Nein News


Len Aldis is the Secretary Britain-Vietnam Friendship Society. We have occasionally carried Len's articles at over the years and consider it an honor for a British citizen to care about the past misdeeds of the U.S. war machine.

We are excited to announce that Len Aldis has joined the team of writers and we look forward to promoting his important work and carrying more of his articles about the role Agent Orange continues to play in Vietnam.

Len Aldis. Secretary
Britain-Vietnam Friendship Society
Flat 2, 26 Tomlins Grove
London E3 4NX
Tel & Fax: 0208 980 7146
Mobile: 0779 657 1017
Skype: Len.Aldis

Comments Leave a comment on this story.

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John G Wotzka July 14, 2011 12:37 pm (Pacific time)

It is good to see that this mess is finally being cleaned up.

COLLI July 13, 2011 7:21 pm (Pacific time)

Len: It would be interesting to know how much the U.S. government has contributed toward supporting the continued care of these unfortunate children. It would also be interesting to know how much each of our politicians have individually contributed. I can remember so many speeches that contained the words "for the children" and I have always wondered how much each of those speech-makers really cared. Do the various churches around the world help much? Have the various child-oriented agencies from the countries jumped-in to help? How about womens groups which are generally comprised of a high percentage of mothers and grandmothers? Who has been contacted to turn-up the heat on U.S. politicians and agencies? How about "Doctors without Borders" - have they been contacted?

Hn Nguyen July 13, 2011 9:59 am (Pacific time)

US and its chemical companies were a destructive industrial complexes in the world.

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