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Think of Agent Orange child victims: a 'Friend of Court' Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Lê Bích Châu., United Kingdom Mar 30, 2006
Child & Youth Rights   Opinions


The appeal hearing on the lawsuit filed by Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin against American chemical companies is scheduled to take place on April 10.

The Federal Court of Appeals of the US is receiving letters from “The Friends of Court” to collect more information and public opinions.

The following is a letter from a Vietnamese woman published on Tuoi Tre newspaper on Saturday.

Dear Court,

… I’m neither a victim of Agent Orange/dioxin; nor a doctor who cares for patients infected with AO/dioxin; or a lawyer who protect the rights of such victims.

I’m just an ordinary Vietnamese woman who works at a small museum of history in Ho Chi Minh City, which displays remnants of the wars in Vietnam.

My job gives me a chance to meet many war victims, from those who were seriously injured by lethal weapons in the war, to former political prisoners and those whose relatives were killed in the war.

The deceased have been mourned and worshiped; the wounds on many bodies have already healed, and several war invalids have gradually adapted themselves to the life.

However, a terrible disaster, whose root originated many decades ago has appeared and haunted the lives of many Vietnamese people. It’s dioxin.

Dear Court, do you know how many Vietnamese poor and unlearned women, who were born or have been living in the regions in which the US troops sprayed toxic chemicals during the war, could not understand the chemical structure and impacts of dioxin?

They can only lament their fates when they delivered children with innate deformities.

Some thought they themselves, or their family members did wrong in the past so they now had to suffer the negative consequences under the laws of causality.

So they dare not eat fish and meat, and never kill even a chicken or a duck. However, they still give birth to deformed children.

Some women went mad because of great misery, while others committed suicide to escape from their miserable lives. And many women have still tried their best to earn money to bring up their disabled children.

Dear Court, the fates of the AO child victims are very miserable too. They cannot walk, talk or do everything that a normal person can do. They cannot derive even the smallest of joys from their childhood.

We once invited many circus and puppet troupes to perform at the Hoa Binh Village, which is home to dioxin-infected children.

All are disabled, ugly and suffer from deformities so that they cannot go to the cinema to watch films, or go to the theater to enjoy play or circus acts.

The children at Hoa Binh Village were eager to welcome the artists, and then happily sat to enjoy the performances.

But we did not hear any clap of hands after the first show ended. It was due to the fact that the little audiences have either no hands, or just one hand, disabling them from clapping for applause as normal people do.

Moments later, all of the children seemed to wake up; the handless ones shouted loudly or beat their legs on the floor to cheer, while those with one hand beat their hands on their shoulders to make noise to express their amusement.

When I carried a handless child, he told me softly: “My aunt. Please scratch my head. I have an itch on my head.” I scratched him, but tears came to my eyes like rain and I was heart broken.

I don’t know much profit the war brought to those involved, but nowadays our innocent children have to suffer terrible consequences, such that they have no hands to scratch, to open a candy, to clap their hands when enjoying the circus.

Life is too unfair for these children. Who can compensate for such pain?

… Scientists, doctors and lawyers will supply you the Court the hard scientific evidence of consequences caused by dioxin to people in Vietnam.

To me, I ask the Court to think about the miserable lives that I’ve just described to you, before making a final decision.

Huynh Ngoc Van



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Lê Bích Châu.

Well,Let's see I am here to survive, to live day to day. I create pain to release pain and live in a tormented world of my own making, though I never wished it upon myself. One day, it will all end, and I can at last relinquish the pain and the hiding and all of the sorrow. But I try to go on, and so far, that seems to be the meaning in my life. To continue until I can no longer .
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