by VOV News
Judge Jack Weinstein of the US Federal
court in Brooklyn District announced on Thursday that the on-going
lawsuit filed by Vietnamese Agent Orange/Dioxin victims against
37 US chemical companies was dismissed.
US chemical companies must be responsible: FM spokesperson
Immediately the result received strong opposition from the public
in and outside the country.
Vietnamese people are indignant at the ruling, said Foreign Minister
spokesperson Le Dzung in response to domestic and foreign media
workers’ question on Vietnam’s reaction to the ruling.
Mr Dzung said on Friday no matter what the court ruling is, it
cannot change the truth that Agent Orange/Dioxin used by the US
troops during the American war in Vietnam caused serious consequences
to humans and the environment of Vietnam.
More than 40 years have elapsed, yet the consequences of the
chemicals have continued to affect Vietnam’s socio-economics.
This has been clearly stated by Vietnamese and American scientists
through their studies. Millions of AO/Dioxin victims contracted
serious illnesses and tens of thousands of their children were
born with deformities. These victims have been living a hard life
both physically and spiritually.
The lawsuit filed by the Vietnamese Agent Orange/Dioxin victims
was a justifiable move and it is US chemical companies who must
be held responsible for these victims, said Mr Dzung.
"We believe that the struggle for justice by the victims
will continue to receive broader support from the international
community, including US individuals and organisations," said
Vietnamese organisations voice opposition
"It is an unjust ruling", said the Vietnam Union of
Friendship Organisations, the Vietnam Peace Committee, the Vietnam
Committee for Solidarity and Co-operation with Asia, Africa and
the Latin America and the Vietnam Fund for Peace and Development
in their joint statement released on Friday.
The statement says: "The Federal Court ruling shows the
irresponsibility towards the sufferings of millions of AO victims
and their families in Vietnam. It runs counter to the criteria
and principles of human rights and justice and pays no heed to
the aspirations of the Vietnamese people and the majority of people
of conscience in the US and the world as well."
Professor Nguyen Trong Nhan, vice president of the Vietnam Association
of Agent Orange/Dioxin Victims said Judge Weinstein did not respect
justice and defied the truth in making the decision.
In a statement released the same day, the association said it
will continue to pursue the lawsuit till the end, not only for
the life of Vietnamese AO victims but also the interests of AO
victims in other countries.
For conscience and justice, the statement says, the association
calls on the governments, international organisations, international
non-organisations, scientists, lawyers, social activities and
peace and justice lovers across the world to help and support
Vietnam in the lawsuit.
Answering a VOV correspondent from New York, Professor Ngo Thanh
Nhan, a member of the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief and Responsibility
Campaign (VAORRC) said he did not agree with Judge Weinstein’s
ruling that at the court the Vietnamese victims did not prove
the serious effects of AO on their health. He said Judge Weinstein
himself understood very clearly the harmful effects of AO following
a similar lawsuit filed by American war veterans in 1984.
Commenting on the judge’s ruling, lawyer William Goodman
representing the plaintiffs, said the judge made a mistake. He
said the use of this chemical in Vietnam was a scandal from the
beginning and the failure of the Federal Court to rectify the
mistake is another stage in the scandal.
He said lawyers representing the Vietnamese AO victims will appeal
to the Second Circuit Court of Appeal, and the lawsuit should
only be decided by the US Supreme Court.
He affirmed that the Vietnam Association for Agent Orange/Dioxin
Victims has a legal right to represent the Vietnamese AO victims
in the lawsuit and that it is not tied down by US laws on time
limitation of suing. Thus, Vietnamese AO victims can appeal to
higher courts in accordance with US laws.
Meanwhile, Jonathan Moore, representing the plaintiff's lawyer
delegation, said although the war has been over for 30 years,
Vietnamese victims affected by Dioxin from the AO spraying by
the US army during the war are still denied justice. He affirmed
that he will pursue the lawsuit in order to bring justice to Vietnamese
L. Spradley, a lecturer of Ohio University, who is in Vietnam
with US students to explore the daily life of the Vietnamese AO
victims, expressed her indignation at judge Weinstein ruling.
She said she hoped that the Vietnamese victims will win the case
and that when returning to the US, she will make public pictures
featuring the harmful effects of the Agent Orange on children,
war veterans and the environment in Vietnam.
She also hoped that the Vietnamese AO victims will receive stronger
support after the ruling.
Immediately after the judge's decision was announced, the VAORRC
called on all American organisations and people to increase their
support for Vietnamese AO victims in their continued appeal to
the Second Circuit Court of Appeal, and demand that the US government
take legal and moral responsibility to compensate the Vietnamese
Dave Cline, a representative of American Veterans For Peace,
said that American veterans will be obliged to heal the wounds
caused by AO/Dioxin in the war and to seek ways to bring justice
to those who are suffering from the horrific effects of toxic
He said after a long period of struggle by American veterans,
US Congress in 1991 conceded that AO/dioxin had effects on American
veterans who joined the war in Vietnam. He demanded that Vietnamese
AO victims be treated as American Veterans affected by AO/Dioxin
and called on American veterans to take part in a widespread campaign
to get justice for Vietnamese AO victims.
International conference supports AO victims
A two-day conference on the aftermath of Agent Orange (AO) opened
in Paris on Friday, drawing the participation of around 250 scientists,
war veterans, and social, political and legal activists from many
The Vietnamese delegation is headed by Trinh Ngoc Thai, Vice
President of the Vietnam - France Friendship Association.
Participants focused their discussions on six key issues including
the history of chemical war, its epidemiological aftermath and
impacts on human health, the ecosystem's current state and prospects
of improving it, socio-economic consequences, legal issues and
assistance given to Vietnam by public and private organisations.
In particular, they will discuss the appeals from international
organisations and other foreign countries, which support the lawsuit
filed by Vietnamese AO/Dioxin victims against US chemical firms.
On March 9, a press conference was held in Paris to announce
the official establishment of an international committee in support
of Vietnamese AO/Dioxin victims. At the conference, many French
and foreign journalists raised their doubts about the poor attitude
of AO/Dioxin producers and purchasers. Many proposed a lawsuit
against the US Government because it had decided to allow the
use of the toxic chemicals. They also called on US journalists
to support Vietnamese victims and awaken human conscience of those
who produced or used dioxin.