Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Demanding justice for Agent Orange victims

The seventy-two-year-old lady gets attention from everyone in the room for her confidence. It is not surprising that I don't notice any signs of ailment, not to mention serious diseases that Nga has contracted as a consequence of dioxin.
Unlike most people who might have collapsed after being diagnosed with dioxin in their blood, Nga remembered that she was in tears but felt extremely joyous when receiving medical test results which showed her exposure to high levels of dioxin in her blood.
"It doesn't matter if test results are available or not as the diseases are already there in my body. What is important is that they are proof for us to file a lawsuit against US chemical companies," Nga says softly.
She knows without a shadow of a doubt that it is not only her and her loved ones being tortured by the fatal disease, but several millions of people who are living in physical and mental agony.
It is nearly 40 years since the anti-American war ended, but Nga - a petite Vietnamese French national decided to sue giant US chemical companies for producing and providing Agent Orange, also known as one of the herbicides and defoliants, which were then sprayed by the American forces in Viet Nam's southern battlefields.
Working side by side with her is Paris-based William Bourdon & Forestier law firm. The two, as one, filed the lawsuit against the US chemical companies on June 11 in a local court in Evry City, demanding compensation.
"If it had not been for the millions of Agent Orange victims who died and/or could not go to the courts to sue US companies for reasons beyond their control, I would not have come forward to file this lawsuit," Nga says, denying what someone said about her being courageous.
"It is Agent Orange victims and advocates of the lawsuit who gave me strength and braveness to confront the US chemical companies. I am not brave at all," she says.
A victim and witness at an International People's Tribunal of Conscience in 2009, Nga lodged a complaint in the court by herself, narrating the heart-breaking stories of Agent Orange victims and those who died from breathing and being affected by the toxic chemicals.
Her stories moved many people at the tribunal which included lawyer William Bourdon, who later represented Nga.
"Compared with other Agent Orange victims my story is just normal," she says sincerely, not talking about her current role as a claimant, but simply comparing herself as a 'hyphen' between people.
"I have been playing my role as a 'hyphen' between people. In the wartime, I used to be a courier. Through working with donors I have also connected them with 400 children who suffer from a cleft lip and/or cleft palate to undergo smile operations. And now I go between the court and Agent Orange victims," she says. 
READ MORE: http://english.vietnamnet.vn/fms/society/108509/demanding-justice-for-agent-orange-victims.html

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