Me, major general Tran Ngoc Tho, a veteran participating in the Vietnam War. As a war veteran, I used to witness the death and wound of my comrades and my fellow countrymen caused by the US bombs and shells. When the war ended, we, survivors of war, wished to do some good deeds for our country. But to our pity, over 4.8 Vietnamese people exposed to AO/Dioxin in which 3 million of them have died because of cancers and other serious diseases caused by the toxic chemicals sprayed by the US military in Vietnam.
Besides the victims who have died in pain, the other victims and their offspring are suffering severe consequences of AO/Dioxin. Their offspring are contaminated since they are in the womb. AO/Dioxin has caused countless of Vietnamese people to death. The victims’ offspring, if alive, are suffering from different kinds of deformity and disability. They are heavy burdens for their family and the society. Their pain and self-esteem seemed to increase much when the US, particularly Monsanto and Dow Chemical companies, representing for 37 chemical companies of the US neglect their responsibility for their crime to the victims. In 2004, the victims filed their lawsuit against 37 chemical companies of the US, notably Monsanto and Dow Chemical. What a pity that their file was refused by the US court.
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Vietnam is heavily affected by war consequences, including AO/Dioxin. Vietnam demands that the companies providing herbicides for the US military be accountable for assisting and supporting the alleviation of AO/Dioxin consequences to its people and environment. It is Monsanto that produced the herbicide sprayed by the US military in Vietnam War. Dioxin in the herbicide causes serious diseases to people, such as: cancer, birth defects. Millions of people of several generations have been affected by AO.
The judgement of the jury of the San Francisco court, US on 19th March 2019 is another proof showing that the Roundup herbicide, a product of Monsanto, has direct effect on people’s health and is an important factor causing cancer to Edwin Hardeman, a 70-year-old US citizen living in California and it also required that the company compensate for Hardeman nearly USD 81 million. As such, the judgement is the second time in less than a year that US courts concluded that the herbicide produced by Monsanto can cause cancer. Earlier, the California Court in San Francisco in August 2018 also judged that Monsanto had to compensate a total amount of USD 289 million for Dewayne Johnson who suffered from cancer after long time exposing to the Roundup and Ranger Pro herbicides produced by this company.
So what is the justice for the Vietnamese AO/Dioxin victims? You said that we lack proof? The scientific proofs and the living proofs which are the people and environment in Vietnam being affected by the AO/Dioxin sprayed by the US in the 1961 – 1971 period of the unjust war is not persuasive enough? During that period, innocent Vietnamese people had to suffer from waves of toxic chemicals sprayed by the US military all over the Southern battlefield of which consequences are still evident today. You can see several studies and surveyors coming from the US to Bien Hoa, Phu Cat, Chu Lai, Da Nang airbases to help with detoxification!
How about people? When meeting the Vietnamese AO victims, US scientists and war veterans had to shout in regret that “My God, it’s so terrible! Please forgive us!”. Will their excuse make any changes to the life of Vietnamese AO victims today? What are the effort and measures for settling or overcoming the consequences of AO/Dioxin in Vietnam? As US authorities and court, can you give Vietnamese AO victims a satisfactory answer? We are living, witnessing and suffering the pain caused by chemical companies who produced and supplied toxic chemicals for the US military use in Vietnam. For the sake of their benefit, the owners of Monsanto, Dow Chemical and other companies have lost their conscience.
It is Monsanto and Dow that caused the consequences to more than 4.8 Vietnamese people. Their children born after war should have been endowed a normal life as others. Ironically, they are suffering pain and serious diseases caused by the US toxic chemicals.
I agree that we should forget the past and look forwards the future. However, there should be measures for healing the wound of war and ease the pain of millions of Vietnamese people. The struggle for justice of Vietnamese AO victims is the journey for equality.
As human beings, we should be equally treated. Our right to life, and our right to pursue happiness should be respected. But Monsanto, Dow Chemical, among others have stolen the lives of millions of innocent people in Vietnam and damaged the mentality and mind of millions of others who are passionate about life. Don’t be so emotionless like them. What do all those prosperity and power mean when they are achieved by bloodthirsty and cruel actions? The profit gained by using toxic chemicals to destroy the environment and living things of Monsanto, Dow Chemical, etc. is accompanied by the animus, the curse of human conscience all across the world.
I expect that the US authorities, Monsanto, Dow Chemical companies, the International Tribunal of conscience will act according to their legitimacy that is endowed by the God. Vietnamese AO victims are looking forward to their goodwill, justice and conscience.
For the justice to be exercised, you, the US court, should do the right things not only for the US citizens, but also for people living in other countries as well. Please reconsider the lawsuit against 37 US chemical companies, including Monsanto and Dow Chemical. This is the earnest desire of Vietnamese AO victims.
Thank you very much and we are looking forward to your conscience!
Ho Chi Minh city, 10th April 2019
Major General Tran Ngoc Tho