Hanoi, June 20th, 2011:
APPEAL of the Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent of Orange/dioxin(VAVA)
Dear sisters, brothers and friends, in Vietnam and around the World.
On August 10th, 1961, the U.S. armed forces began the first spraying of toxic chemicals in Vietnam, launching “Operation Ranch Hand” a program that lasted almost a decade. Operation Ranch Hand focused its deadly weapons upon South Vietnam, causing destruction of Vietnam's environment, ecological systems and catastrophic consequences to human health.
This August 10th, 2011 marks the 50th anniversary of the Agent Orange disaster in Vietnam. This is a very sad commemoration for the Vietnamese people. More than 3 million hectares of forests and rice fields and about 26,000 hamlets were sprayed by the U.S. with toxic chemicals. Even now, fifty years later, a number of "hot spots" are still severely contaminated with high levels of dioxin in the soil and water. Out of about 5 million Vietnamese who were exposed to Agent Orange/dioxin, 3 million people are estimated to be suffering from illnesses or birth defects.
Increasingly, victims are the children and grandchildren of those sprayed during the war -- the 2nd and 3rd generations, who suffer horrific birth defects which force many to live in a vegetative state. Many women have been unable to give birth because of their exposure. Countless victims of all ages are gradually dying in great pain due to severe and persistent diseases related to their exposure to Agent Orange. The victims and their families (many of which contain several victims) live in heartbreaking conditions, being consumed with the care of the victims and unable to work.
The war ended 36 years ago. Vietnam has been restored to life. Although the Vietnamese government, mass organizations and individuals in the country and abroad have been actively assisting the Agent Orange victims, they nevertheless are still the poorest of the poor – the most miserable among the miserable.
On the occasion of the beginning of the 50 “key action days” of the “Action for Agent Orange Victims in Vietnam,” the Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange/dioxin sincerely appeals to all of our sisters and brothers, friends and colleagues, in the country and abroad to demonstrate their sympathy and support for the Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange in our struggle for justice.
The Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange/dioxin asks the U.S. government to act on its responsibility for the injuries sustained by the Vietnamese people. We request that the U.S. chemical companies who supplied the toxic Agent Orange /dioxin to the U.S. forces for use during the Vietnam War, particularly Dow Chemical and Monsanto, act as responsible corporate citizens and acknowledge their wrongdoing! Dow Chemical and Monsanto must answer the question: if you fail to compensate the victims in Vietnam, how can you expect to continue to do business in Vietnam?
The Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange/dioxin welcomes and appreciates all the warm sentiments and actions taken in support of the victims of Agent Orange by sisters, brothers and friends, domestically and internationally.
The truth has been given voice! Justice must be achieved! 50 years is too long to wait! The support and assistance offered to the Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange/dioxin, to all international victims of Agent Orange and to victims of all types of chemical weapons the world over constitutes a great contribution to the struggle for peace and justice on this planet.
On behalf of The Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange/dioxin,
Sr. Lt. General Nguyen Van Rinh