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Tiếng Việt

“Agent Orange” Man

President Truong Tan Sang (while in office) has repeatedly called Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Van Rinh by "Agent Orange" Man! That is also the "title" that many people give to Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Van Rinh - President of the Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange/dioxin in Vietnam.


Part I: Growing up in the midst of war

Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Van Rinh was born in 1942 in Dong Kenh village, Van To commune, Tu Ky district, Hai Duong province. During the time when the country was still under French colonial rule, his childhood was full of hardships and losses. On October 8, 1950, his father - a party member, died in a battle against the French colonialists.


Following the family tradition, in February 1961, he joined the army and was assigned to the 54th Artillery Regiment/320th Division. He fought in many battles such as Con Tien, Doc Mieu, Dong Ha, Ai Tu, Cua Viet, Street 9, Khe Sanh, Dak Pet, Thuong Duc... the areas where the US sprayed millions of liters of toxic chemicals. During the General Offensive and Uprising in Spring 1975, he and his unit participated in the Hue - Da Nang Campaign, marched quickly along the Central Coastal provinces and participated in the historic Ho Chi Minh campaign. After liberating the South and reunifying the country, he and his unit fought to protect the Southwest border, carry out international missions and protect the Northern border.

From an artillery soldier who grew up through the revolutionary wars, he developed into an officer of the Regiment, Division, Commander of the 2nd Army Corps, Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Vietnam People's Army and Deputy Minister of National Defense; at the same time, undertake many responsibilities assigned by the Party and the Army. For his achievements in war fighting and Military building, Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Van Rinh was awarded many noble awards by the Party and State.

“Agent Orange” Man
Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Van Rinh

Returning from war, in peacetime, although busy with work, he still pays much attention to policy for the army's rear, the work of "gratitude return", and cares for the unfortunate lives caused by the consequences of war. He confides that: “My life is like a multi-episode movie. I had to witness the death of my beloved father in a battle against the invaders. In the army, I saw several of my comrades die, and many times enemy aircraft spray toxic chemicals... Therefore, I deeply understand the losses of war, the pain of millions of families of wounded soldiers, martyrs, and victims of Agent Orange ... ". Perhaps, that is also an important reason why he is always gentle, calm, but thoughtful and steadfast as a general. His arduous and heroic past seemed to give him strength so that when he was retired by the Party and State, he continued to devote himself to the Party's goals and ideals, and to the people's happiness.

The war is getting further and further away, but the "Agent Orange pain" still persists. Up to now, there are millions of victims of Agent Orange still alive nationwide. Due to heredity, tens of thousands of children who are descendants of resistance activists were infected with Agent Orange/dioxin, leading to deformities and birth defects. Many victims are struggling in pain every hour, every day because of the evil diseases related to Agent Orange/dioxin. They are the “poorest among the poor, the most miserable among the miserable”. Although the Party and State have offered many favorable policies and treatments to take care of people with meritorious services to the revolution, including resistance activists and their children infected with Agent Orange/dioxin, it is not enough to compensate for their grief, loss and suffering. There needs to have "Joining hands to alleviate the pain of Agent Orange" from the whole society. In response to that situation, in 2008, when he had just retired, General Rinh was assigned the President of the Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange/dioxins. He confided: "As I directly witnessed the "rains" of toxic chemicals sprayed by American aircraft on the battlefield, the bare Truong Son forests, the misfortunes and sufferings of the victims of Agent Orange and their families, so when I was introduced to work at VAVA, I immediately accepted the offer. Moreover, as I am still strong enough and have work experience, I must continue to devote. I always feel that I still owe my teammates something.

As the President of VAVA, Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Van Rinh, together with its Standing Committee actively advises the Party and Government on mobilizing resources to support, care for and assist the victims; step up the fight for justice for the victims and participate in the formulation of regimes and policies related to people with meritorious services and the victims.

In response to the requirement of strengthening the remediation of the consequences of toxic chemicals after war, it is necessary to have more active "involvement" of the Party committees, authorities, departments, branches and social organizations, President Nguyen Van Rinh actively directed the consultation, proposed to the Secretariat of the Party Central Committee the need to issue a directive to lead this task. Accordingly, on May 14, 2015, the Secretariat of the Party Central Committee issued Directive No. 43-CT/TW on "Strengthening the Party's leadership in dealing with the consequences of toxic chemicals caused by the US in the war in Vietnam”. Along with that, President Nguyen Van Rinh also directed the participation in the development of directives and legal documents related to people with meritorious services and victims of Agent Orange, such as: Ordinance on Incentives for people with meritorious services to the revolution; Decision No. 2215/QD-TTg of the Prime Minister promulgating the National Action Plan to overcome the consequences of toxic chemicals in the war in Vietnam (in the 2021 - 2030 period); Decree No. 131/2021/ND-CP dated December 30, 2021 detailing and implementing measures to implement the Ordinance on incentives for people with meritorious services to the revolution... These are important documents directing the task of overcoming the Agent Orange disaster for the environment, and implementing regimes and policies for resistance activists and their children and grandchildren infected with Agent Orange/dioxin.

Up to date, Directive 43-CT/TW and those legal documents have really come into life, making an important contribution to promoting the synergy of the whole political system and the whole people in "joining hands to alleviate the pain of Agent Orange", creating favorable conditions for the victims to improve their lives both materially and spiritually, and gradually integrate into the community.

Part II: A shining example of serving wholeheartedly the victims of Agent Orange

With a thorough working style and method, and a high sense of responsibility, President Nguyen Van Rinh regularly sticks to the localities, directly visits and presents gifts to thousands of the victims across the country. Despite his old age, he is still present in many parts of the country; from remote villages on the northern border to small fishing villages along the coast. His emotional image in the small, dilapidated houses, or by the poor hospital beds of the victims really moved and motivated the conscience and responsibility of the society. Also by coming to the localities, he understood the suffering, hardships, thoughts and aspirations of the victims...Then, he proposed guidelines and measures to guide and solve the issue thoroughly and rationally.

The movement of "Acting for the Vietnamese Victims of Agent Orange" launched by the Central Committee of the Vietnam Fatherland Front and the emulation movement of "For the Vietnamese Victims of Agent Orange" initiated by VAVA were directed by him to concretize the goals, measures for each year, each period throughout the Associations and spread widely to all branches, levels and localities. As a result, many charitable activities, supporting, caring for and helping the victims have been enthusiastically conducted by all levels of sectors, organizations, businesses, benefactors, people from all walks of life and international friends. Up to now, associations at all levels have mobilized more than 3,100 billion VND; built more than 7,000 houses of gratitude; granted more than 15 thousand scholarships, together with allowances for victims with difficulties during the holidays, medical examination and treatment, funding for production and detoxification, rehabilitation... for tens of thousands of victims of Agent Orange.

One of the important and specific tasks of the Association that General Rinh is always concerned about is what to do to make the fight for justice for the victims highly effective and bring practical benefits to the victims. Realizing the difficulties in the lawsuit against chemical companies that produced and supplied "herbicides" for the US military to use during the war in Vietnam, he directed the coordination with a number of research institutions, and a number of scientists to hold seminars to research and prepare scientific arguments; and at the same time, push the courts in the United States and France to open hearings on the lawsuits filed by the Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange. He went directly with some victims to the United States to attend the trial of 37 US chemical companies. On May 15-16, 2009, the International Court of Conscience in Paris opened a trial for 37 US chemical companies with the witness of Ms. Tran To Nga. The Court concluded that: The US government is the culprit using Agent Orange/dioxin, the consequences of which can be considered as environmental "genocide" in Vietnam; American chemical companies were accomplices in the war. At the same time, the court requested the US Government and chemical companies that supply toxic chemicals to compensate for the victims; be responsible for cleaning the environment and removing dioxins from contaminated land and water in Vietnam.

Although the results have yet to meet expectations, the fight for justice for the victims of Agent Orange in Vietnam has attracted the attention of international public opinion, awakening the responsibility and conscience of humanity. The struggle movement in many countries demanding that the US be responsible for the Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange has never stopped. Up to now, the United States has coordinated with Vietnam to complete dioxin decontamination at Da Nang airport, Phu Cat airport (Binh Dinh). This work is also being carried out at Bien Hoa airport (Dong Nai). The US government has agreed to promote the Program to support people with disabilities, including the victims of Agent Orange in areas heavily sprayed with Agent Orange (in the 2016 - 2020 period in 6 provinces and in the 2021 - 2022 period in 8 provinces).

Currently, Senior Lieutenant General Rinh still affirms his determination and often reminds officials of the Association at all levels that "We must persist in fighting for justice for the victims"; at the same time, directing to continue the struggle by means, forms and measures consistent with the Party's foreign policy and international law. In particular, we should continue to support Ms. Tran To Nga's lawsuit both materially and spiritually.

Building the Association strong

As the President of VAVA, Senior Lieutenant General Rinh has directed to promote the construction of the Association in the provinces that have not yet been established and expand the organization of the Association at the district and commune levels with the motto "where there are victims, there are associations". Therefore, during the three terms of his presidency, the organization of the Association at all levels has been constantly growing, forming a wide network to the district, commune and many hamlets and neighborhoods.

Up to now, affiliates of VAVA have been organized in 63/63 provinces with over 400,000 members. The Agent Orange/dioxin funds have been established at the central level and in 40/63 provinces and cities. There are 26 Centers of Social Protection for victims of Agent Orange at the central and provincial levels. The role and prestige of VAVA have been increasingly affirmed, worthy of an association assigned by the Party and State, and a reliable support for millions of Vietnamese Agent Orange victims.

As the President of the Association, despite his busy work, Senior Lieutenant General Rinh always pays attention to building a unified, stable, clean and strong Association, serving as a basis for fulfilling the assigned political tasks. He always attaches importance to training its staff with good moral qualities, capability to meet the requirements of assigned tasks. Many times he reminded the cadres and employees of the Central Committee of the Association that: “To come to the Association is to come to the victims, to dedicate and express gratitude to our teammates. Therefore, each of us must uphold the tradition of Solidarity - Gratitude - Responsibility - For the sake of the victims, voluntarily abide by the laws of the State, the rules and regulations of the Association, and must not do anything contrary to the conscience and morality". He himself has always been a shining example of morality, the center of solidarity and unity; wholeheartedly for work, that everyone respects and believes in him. With a meager monthly allowance, he spent 01 million dong per month to donate for the victims. This year, although he is 80 years old, his eyes are still bright, and his voice is clear. Due to his old age and poor health, he has repeatedly asked for leave, but for many reasons, he still has to shoulder this difficult and humanitarian work.

Inheriting the patriotic tradition of his family and homeland, over 60 years of revolutionary activities, Senior Lieutenant General Rinh has made many contributions to the revolutionary cause of the Party and the nation. With more than 15 years in the position of President of the Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange/dioxins, Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Van Rinh's activities are closely connected with the development and growth of the Association. The name "Agent Orange" Man has shown all the respect and closeness of people to Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Van Rinh - a loyal cadre of the Party; a typical and shining example of revolutionary moral qualities; an exemplary and wholehearted cadre for the Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange./.

Manh Dung


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