The Ho Chi Minh City Association for Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin (HAVA) is calling for more support for the lawsuit filed in France by a Vietnamese-French woman to claim damages from U.S. chemical companies that manufactured Agent Orange, the defoliant used by the U.S. during the war in Vietnam. The calls were raised at a press conference held on Monday at which HAVA said that Tran To Nga, a 73-year-old Vietnamese-French woman who is an AO/dioxin victim, filed the above lawsuit against 26 U.S. chemical manufacturers on June 11, 2014. On April 16, 2015, a local court in Evry, France summoned representatives from the U.S. companies involved for the first hearing session, HAVA said. At the conference, Dr. Nguyen Thi Ngoc Phuong, deputy chairperson of the Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange (VAVA), said two French lawyers are giving free legal assistance to Nga in her lawsuit. These lawyers have visited Vietnam many times to collect materials about the harmful effects of AO/dioxin, Dr. Phuong said. Recent tests conducted in Germany on Nga under the support of VAVA showed that the woman still carries the dioxin in her blood many decades since her exposure, Dr. Phuong added. Nga’s pathological state is similar to that of U.S. war veterans who have also been infected with AO/dioxin and to whom the U.S. government is paying compensation, the doctor said.
In her complaint, Nga sued these companies for providing toxic chemical weapons used by U.S. forces in Vietnam during the war before 1975.Nga was a correspondent for the Giai Phong (Liberation) News Agency during the war and contracted the AO while working in different areas densely sprayed with the toxic substance. She later contracted many diseases and went to France for treatment. She then settled down there and got French nationality. Nga had three children who all were infected with the AO, too. Her eldest child died at 17 months old due to congenital heart defects, while her second daughter inherited a blood disorder (alpha thalassemia) from her, and the youngest suffered a skin disease. VAVA calls for contributions to pay for expenses related to Nga’s lawsuit, Dr. Phuong said. The Vietnamese government has offered Nga 35,000 euro (US$38,265) and the Vietnamese-French community in France has presented her with more than 10,000 euro ($10,932), according to VAVA. “I believe that Nga will win the lawsuit, and her case will create a good premise for other AO victims in Vietnam,” Dr. Phuong said. On August 2, HAVA will organize a 10,000 person march to claim justice for victims of AO/dioxin. HAVA will also call for contributions to the creation of a village named Cam (Orange) in Hoc Mon District, Ho Chi Minh City. Upon completion Cam Village, covering an area of 49,000 m², will be home to helpless AO victims, HAVA said.