An estimated 3 million Vietnamese are suffering from the horrendous health effects inflicted by the dioxin-laden herbicide Agent Orange, which was employed liberally by the US during the Vietnam War. In 2004, the victims, represented by the Vietnam Association of Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin (VAVA), initiated a legal action in the US against nearly 40 chemical companies that supplied the chemical.
A rejection of the case in early 2005 is being appealed and oral argumentation will begin in a New York court on June 18.
A VAVA delegation from Vietnam that will observe the hearing arrived in San Francisco on June 9 and will hold public meetings there, as well as in Chicago, Washington DC and New York City, to campaign for the case.
Tim McCombe, national president of the Vietnam Veterans Federation of Australia, told Green Left Weekly that his organisation backs VAVA's case. "We support, regardless of anybody's political beliefs, the principle that victims of contamination by Agent Orange should be compensated.
"The latest monograph from the French-based International Agency for Research on Cancer for the World Health Organisation has ... established that there's a clear link between Agent Orange and cancer."
The VVF website also points out that "After many years, our fight to prove the effects of Agent Orange, and other chemicals, on Vietnam veterans and the children of Vietnam veterans has almost been won. Government health studies, in any survey carried out, have for years shown that children of Vietnam veterans suffer from serious birth defects, far above the national averages for children in the larger community."