VIETNAM: Testimonies from AO/dioxin victims

April 12, 2006

VIETNAM: Testimonies from AO/dioxin victims

Allen Myers, Hanoi

Mai Giang Vu was a conscript in the Saigon regime’s military from 1968 to 1973, when he was wounded, losing his left eye. In 1968 he accompanied an infantry patrol on a week-long defoliation operation. In 1970 and 1971 he was involved in spraying defoliants from helicopters. He and his wife had six children, but three have died.

“All of my children were delivered in Tu Du Hospital, all heavier than 3 kilograms, healthy”, he told the March 28-29 International Conference of Agent Orange/Dioxin Victims conference. “But at 15 years old [three of them] began to walk with difficulty, then stopped learning and gradually got weaker and weaker. Their bodies and limbs began to curl up and made it impossible to walk. They had to drag their legs, crawling until 18 years old, when they were almost paralysed and had to stay in bed. Two of them passed away at 23 years old, and the third at 25…

“While American Vietnam veterans and their children enjoy some compensation, the Vietnamese victims were left by the perpetrators to cope with various war legacies alone, with limited resources and assistance.”

According to the Vietnamese Red Cross, there are at least 150,000 children in Vietnam with birth deformities that can be readily traced back to their parents' exposure to Agent Orange during the war, or the consumption of dioxin-contaminated food and water since 1975. The Vietnam Victims of Agent Orange Association (VAVA) estimates that 3 million Vietnamese were exposed to the chemical during the war, and at least 1 million suffer serious health problems today.

“I suffer from the effects of Agent Orange. My children suffer from the effects of Agent Orange and my grandchildren suffer from the effects of Agent Orange”, Roger Bush, a New Zealand Vietnam veteran, told the conference. “Our New Zealand health specialists tell us that we can anticipate that this curse will continue for the next seven generations.”

From Green Left Weekly, April 12, 2006.
Visit the Green Left Weekly home page.

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