Len Aldis, Secretary of the Britain-Vietnam Friendship Society, on Oct. 3 sent a letter to Judges of the US Court of Appeal for releasing impartial ruling on a lawsuit by Vietnamese Agent Orange victims against the US Chemical Companies that produced the toxic chemicals sprayed during the war in Vietnam .

In his letter, he wrote: “I am neither a scientist, nor a man of medicine. I do not have any medical experience or knowledge at all but write to you as a person who has travelled to Vietnam on many occasions, and visited many of its provinces. It is because of my visits and what I have seen that I write and ask to make a submission to the Court in favour of the plaintiffs in the appeal before you.

“One of the weapons used by American forces in the war in Vietnam was chemicals. It has been established from research carried out by a team from Columbia University led by Jeanne Mager Stellman and Steven D. Stellman – published in Nature Magazine of April 2003 – of the logbooks of the pilots that 82 million litres of chemicals were sprayed over a vast area of South Vietnam

Many scientists from a number of countries have also carried out research on the effects of the use of these chemicals.

“…I wish to draw the attention of the Court to the visits I has made to Vietnam , the first in 1989, and each year since…. In the seventeen years I have been able to meet and speak to many hundreds of people, young and elderly, suffering from various illnesses and disabilities as a result of the chemicals. In many cases it has not been easy for me to see the terrible disabilities suffered by young adults, teenagers, and in particular children.”

“…The War on Vietnam ended in 1975, but the use of the chemicals that included Agent Orange/Dioxin over a period from 1961 – 1972 has affected millions, many thousands of whom were born long after the war ended.”

He named some agent orange victims as examples for bad effect of such chemicals on Vietnamese people and expressed his wishes that the court of appeal should watch documentary films showing many of these tragic victims before coming to its decision.

Len Aldis noted that “…members of the US forces who served in Vietnam have also been affected by the same illnesses and disabilities transmitted to their children as have occurred on the Vietnamese. Further, in a lawsuit brought by these veterans in 1984 against some of the same companies in this appeal, you will know that it was settled out of court for a sum of US $184 million.”

Veterans from Australia and New Zealand are suffering from the effects of the chemicals. In a settlement announced by a high Court in the Republic of Korea , the chemical companies that included Monsanto, were told to pay compensation, he said.

“At an international conference on Agent Orange held in Hanoi earlier this year, I was pleased to meet a number of veterans from Australia , the Republic of Korea , New Zealand , Vietnam and the United States. … It was very moving to hear an American speak of the death of his young son in his arms when his life support was turned off. His death was undoubtedly due to his father’s experiences in Vietnam ”.

“His story can be repeated many thousands of times by the Vietnamese who went through the same tragic experience and who, today, are witnessing their children suffering from the consequences of chemicals used over thirty years ago,” he stressed. (VNA)