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Tiếng Việt

Path of life – The fire never dies

The following article is about a Vietnamese-French woman who has restlessly been proceeding against U.S. chemical companies that manufactured and supplied toxic chemicals of dioxin, including Agent Orange, for the U.S. Army to spray in South Vietnam during the war.

Hardships on the path of life

The book “Đường Trần – Ngọn lửa không bao giờ tắt” (Path of life – The fire never dies), which was written by Tran To Nga, a Vietnamese-French lady, has just been released in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Tran To Nga has internationally been known as a Vietnamese Agent Orange (AO) victim, who has also represented millions of other Vietnamese AO victims to sue the U.S. chemical firms for producing and supplying the toxic chemicals used by the U.S. Army during the war in Vietnam. Ms. Nga revealed at the book release ceremony that she was writing the book when she was struggling against a cancer in France. All at the event showed their admiration for her great endeavor and will.

She said, “Actually, I wrote the book while I was at hospital waiting for an operation. As the book is written in Vietnamese, a friend of mine from Vietnam supported me in editing the book when I was under a five-week radiation therapy course. After the radiation therapy course, we finished the book and flew to Vietnam.”

As I tell stories in the book, I have experienced a path of life with numerous hardships. “You may see part of your lives or awaken reminiscences of your fallen when you read the book. If descendents of the Tran family read the book and become more committed to following the path of their grandparents, I will be very happy. It can be said that I have undergone the fight for justice of AO victims and the fight against a cancer. Now by publishing the book, I want to devote myself to the community, particularly the Vietnamese AO victims, rather than a fight. I pass my will and aspirations for justice of the Vietnamese AO victims enclosed in the book to the next generations.”

She stressed, “Our generation has finished our historical mission and we are all near our end. The responsibility for the future of the country, the peace and happiness of the people has now been passed on to the young generation.”   

Tran To Nga is a representative for a Vietnamese generation who is handing over the great responsibility to the next generation. The road ahead will not see many sacrifices and ammunitions but it is a peaceful path of life with numerous difficulties and headships.

Nga went on, “In the past, we fought the visible enemy as we saw them treading down our country and killing our people. Today, we live in peace so you should use your minds and your hearts to spot enemies so as to continue the current national path.”

In more than 440 pages of her book, Nga tells readers about her 75-year life, during which she undauntedly fought foreign invaders in the two national resistant wars. She was also imprisoned and brutally tortured by the enemy but she still overcame all difficulties, hardships and both psychological and physical tortures and even born a baby in prison. What is more, that elderly woman keeps devoting the rest of her life to claim justice for AO victims.

Reading her book, the reader will be interested in each page as the main character is so brave, smart and resourceful that she can think of a way out in the most difficult situation to avoid becoming weak and being used by the enemy.

Time has passed but her personality has remained unchanged. She appeared to be very brave when she participated in the lawsuit against the US chemical firms, claiming compensations for some 4 million Vietnamese AO victims. She should have well understood that it was a road full of difficulties and hardship, but it was a worthy cause, and that if it was successful, it would serve as a precedent for claims from AO victims  of other nationalities.

Passing on energy to young generation

Via her book, Nga wants to pass on the previous generations’ energy, love for the Fatherland and living for noble ideals to today’s Vietnamese generation. She also sends a massage that Vietnamese youths now have various opportunities for development and international integration but they should always have full awareness, a brilliant mind and strong willpower so as to identify the truth, rightness and justice and live and struggle for these things.

Ms. Tran To Nga used to work as a journalist at the Liberation News Agency. After 1975, she first took the position of Headmaster of Le Thi Hong Gam School and then Headmaster of Marie Curie School. Finally, she was the Rector of The Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology and Education. After her retirement, she actively participated in social and charitable activities. She moved to live in France and was awarded a National Order of the Legion of Honor (Ordre national de la Légion d'honneur).

In May 2009, Nga came to the International People’s Tribunal of Consciousness in Paris to act as a witness in a case against the 37 U.S. chemical companies supplying toxic chemicals, particularly Agent Orange, to the U.S. Army that sprayed the poisons onto South Vietnam during the war. Since then, she has become the plaintiff in the proceedings against the U.S. chemical producers that have made her and millions of Vietnamese be infected by dioxin/AO. She considers the struggle as her final dedication to life.

40 years after the war, Ms. Tran To Nga recognized that she was exposed to dioxin/AO during the war; and as a result, her two children are the successive victims of AO with its typical symptoms.

In 2013, Nga with the support from lawyers continued to proceed against the U.S. chemical companies, claiming compensations for some four million Vietnamese AO victims.

In 2014, the Evry Court of Assizes (France) accepted her petition and sent the claim to 26 involved U.S. chemical producers that had supplied the U.S. Army with the toxic chemical of Agent Orange sprayed in Vietnam during the war.

In September 2017, Nga returned to France to attend the 9th hearing.   

Minh Thi


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