In support of justice for Vietnamese Agent Orange victims, a national coalition of veterans, Vietnamese-Americans and other community leaders announces the formation of the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief and Responsibility Campaign on February 28, 2005.
The U.S. government used Agent Orange, from 1962 to 1971, as part of their war in Vietnam. Agent Orange contains dioxin, one of the deadliest substances known, and continues to cause death and sickness to millions of Vietnamese and to many U.S. veterans of the Vietnam war. Now even more than thirty years after the war, Agent Orange remains in the land and water of Vietnam, causing horrific birth defects to several generation of children.
- We support the Vietnamese Agent Orange survivors and their representative, the Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin in their lawsuit against the U.S. chemical companies. Their lawsuit is a historic first effort by Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange to achieve compensation from the manufacturers who profited from this chemical warfare.
- We call upon our government to meet its responsibility to compensate the more than three million Vietnamese people suffering from the effects of Agent Orange. The U.S. government has a moral and legal obligation to heal the wounds of war.
Our Campaign will continue until justice for Vietnamese Agent Orange victims is achieved by winning significant U.S. government compensation.
Veterans For Peace's Resolution on Vietnam (July 2004, Boston)
WHEREAS the United States government failed to fulfill commitments made in the Paris Peace Agreement to provide economic aid for post-war reconstruction and to heal the wounds of the Vietnam conflict, and
WHEREAS the US government pursued a hostile post-war policy aimed at isolating Vietnam that includes a punitive trade embargo which lasted until 1994, and
WHEREAS the US government has been reluctant to admit responsibility and has failed to provide humanitarian assistance for the serious health, economic and environmental devastation caused by the chemical defoliant Agent Orange/dioxin that continues through the present day, and
WHEREAS many of our members are Vietnam veterans who strongly feel it is our duty is to aid the Vietnamese people in their efforts to rebuild and to provide humanitarian assistance, and
WHEREAS it is imperative to nurture a relationship built on mutual trust and respect of national sovereignty, and to create fair trade practices that enhance the economic well-being of both countries,
BE IT RESOLVED that Veterans For Peace calls on the US Congress to reject the so-called “Vietnam Human Rights Act of 2004” (HR-1587) or any other legislation that is contrary to friendly and normal relations between our two countries,
AND BE IT RESOLVED that we endorse the creation of a Vietnam Agent Orange Relief and Responsibility fund that advocates for and assists the Vietnamese victims of these toxic chemicals,
AND BE IT RESOLVED that we confirm our desire to develop a formal relationship with the Veterans Association of Viet Nam, in the belief that it is in our best interest to pursue a policy of peace, reconciliation and friendship and for the U.S. government to fulfill its responsibility to the Vietnamese people.
Suel Jones, Becky Luening, Michael Cull, David Cline, Jaime Vazquez, William Kelly
Why We Organize
Wars do not end when the bombs stop falling and the fighting ceases. The devastation continues long after, in the land and in the minds and bodies of the affected population.
Today, three million Vietnamese suffer the effects of chemical defoliants used by the United States during the Vietnam War. In order to deny food and protection to those deemed to be “the enemy,” the U.S. defoliated the forests of Vietnam with the deadly chemicals Agent Orange, White, Blue, Pink, Green and Purple. Agent Orange, which was contaminated with trace amounts of TCDD dioxin – the most toxic chemical known to science – disabled and sickened soldiers, civilians and several generations of their offspring on two continents.
In addition to the millions of Vietnamese still affected by this deadly poison, tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers are also affected. It has caused birth defects in hundreds of thousands of children in Vietnam and the U.S. – that is, the second and third generations of those who were exposed to Agent Orange decades ago. Medical evidence indicates that certain cancers (for example, soft tissue non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma), diabetes (type II), and in children spina bifida and other birth defects, are attributable to the exposure.
The deadly mark left by Agent Orange on the natural environment of Vietnam includes the destruction of mangrove forests and the long-term poisoning of soil and crops.
Surviving Vietnam veterans in the U.S., after many years of organized action, have finally achieved limited compensation from our government for some illnesses they suffer due to Agent Orange poisoning. While this struggle continues, the three million surviving Vietnamese victims received no such compensation, nor any humanitarian aid from the U.S. government.
Our government has a moral and legal obligation, under international law, to compensate the people of Vietnam for the devastating impact of Agent Orange, and to assist in alleviating its effects. Indeed, the U.S. government recognized this responsibility: In the Peace Accords signed in Paris in 1973 the Richard Nixon administration promised to contribute $3 billion dollars toward healing the wounds of war, and to post-war reconstruction of Vietnam.
Nonetheless, 30 years after the end of the Vietnam War, our government has yet to make good on its formal commitment and moral obligation to assist the Vietnamese people’s recovery from the chemical warfare waged against them and their land. Neither has it met its responsibility to the peoples of Laos and Cambodia, whose lands were also poisoned by the same chemical weapons.
Our focus is achieving justice for the Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange. We are also mindful of the fact that our government has continued to use chemical weapons, including depleted uranium and napalm, in Iraq and other places. Our actions therefore are part of an on-going international campaign to end the use of toxic weapons and to achieve justice and accountability for all victims.
The Vietnam Agent Orange Relief and Responsibility Campaign is an initiative of U.S. veterans, Vietnamese Americans and all concerned about peace and justice. Vietnamese citizens have filed a lawsuit to hold the chemical companies responsible for the crimes against humanity of which their products were a part. Now it's our turn to act: With this campaign, we seek to fulfill our responsibility by insisting that our government honor its moral and legal responsibility to compensate the Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange.
We invite you to join us in:
1. Organizing to achieve justice for Vietnamese Agent Orange victims by
Passing a resolution in your community group, school, place of worship, veteran’s organization or union asking Congress to allocate funds to care for and compensate Vietnam’s Agent Orange victims and clean up the toxic “hot spots.”
2. Educating our friends, co-workers and neighbors about the suffering caused by Agent Orange in Vietnam and in other wars our government has waged. Organize an event at your home, school, community center or place of worship. Contact us for films and educational materials. We will continue to bring Vietnamese Agent Orange victims to tour communities throughout the nation with disabled U.S. veterans. These visits will also build solidarity with U.S. communities fighting against toxic contamination and environmental racism. Contact us if you would like to host a visit by a group to your area.
3. Public donations for Vietnamese Agent Orange victims. Collected funds will go to the Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin (VAVA) and to our educational work within the U.S. to achieve the goals of this campaign. Tax deductible contributions may be made to Veterans for Peace / VAORRC, and sent to VAORRC, P.O. Box 303, Prince Station, New York, NY 10012-0006.
Achieving real justice for Vietnamese Agent Orange victims will be an important step toward our government's taking full responsibility for the long-term devastation that its chemical weaponry caused the Vietnamese people and all Vietnam war veterans. This tragic chapter in our nation's history will not be satisfactorily closed until WE THE PEOPLE of the United States compel our government to do the right thing. Thirty years late is better than never!
Thank you for your participation and support. Together, we can make The Vietnam Agent Orange Relief and Responsibility Campaign a resounding success!