Tran To Nga, a nearly 80-year-old woman who has been fighting for Agent Orange victims for more than 10 years, shared with Vietnam Times on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Agent Orange disaster in Vietnam (August 10, 1961 - August 10, 1961).
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Tran To Nga and the French people fight for justice for the Vietnamese Agent Orange victims
Could you tell us the latest information about the Agent Orange lawsuit against US chemical companies?
At present, the lawyer has prepared the appeal file. France is on summer break so all agencies are not working. The Paris Court of Appeal asked to postpone the date to September 6, so we will be able to file the appeal soon, and then there will be a court decision.
How are your feelings and forecasts?
I am 80 years old this year, but as long as I live, I will continue to demand justice for Agent Orange victims.
Maybe my health does not allow me to pursue this struggle to the end, but the younger generation in France and around the world will continue to fight for the case. The purpose of the lawsuit is for the people of the world to understand the Agent Orange disaster and condemn it, to sympathize and help the Vietnamese Agent Orange victims. I'm sure that someone will follow me to do it.
During the struggle, how did you receive support from international public opinion, the companionship and cooperation of the Government and people of Vietnam?
The lawsuit has dragged on for 11 years, of which 7 are official. At first I fought alone, but now people all over the world have voiced their support and they call this a historic lawsuit. The world knows about the Agent Orange disaster and speaks out in support of Agent Orange victims. That gives strength to this struggle. After the court hearing on January 25, 2021, the number of people supporting the lawsuit reached millions. All radio stations and newspapers around the world such as Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and the United States have reported on the lawsuit.
At the beginning of the appeal, unlike 7 years ago I was alone, now it is the struggle of everyone in the world. There is a French senator who is over 90 years old but she is very active in supporting the victims of Agent Orange. She alone campaigned for more than 200 signatures of French ministers, deputy ministers and senators to support the lawsuit.
The homeland of Vietnam is a great encouragement to me. In the past 7 years, I have received great sympathy, encouragement and support from Vietnam. The Vietnamese Foreign Ministry spokesperson has officially voiced disapproval of the French court's conclusion and wished the fight for justice would continue. The words of encouragement and support from the country are the most sacred fuel for me to have the energy to continue the lawsuit.
Tran To Nga (third from left) marches with Vietnamese Agent Orange victims in Ho Chi Minh city
Specifically, what should the Vietnamese people do to bring justice to the victims of Agent Orange?
This struggle will be long and difficult. Therefore, the 4 million Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange who are insiders must unite to talk about the harmful effects of Agent Orange, how it is passed on from generation to generation. In addition, the press in Vietnam needs to do like the press in France or some other countries to constantly talk about this struggle to awaken people's consciences. The more the world knows about the Agent Orange disaster, the more justice-loving people will come back to support Vietnam.
In addition to the legal fight, I also aim for specific jobs. When the Covid-19 pandemic is over, I will discuss building a vocational training center for Agent Orange victims and people with disabilities.
I really want the people of Vietnam to support and help me realize this last dream. It is to help Agent Orange victims have a normal life and work, receive vocational training so that they can live by their own labor.
Collectif Vietnam Dioxine said about 300 people came to support Tran To Nga in Paris, France, on January 30. Photo: Reuters
"The relationship between Vietnam and the US is getting better and better. I applaud the US government for its projects to overcome the consequences of war such as detoxifying Da Nang and Bien Hoa airports and supporting Agent Orange victims. However, through the Association of Victims of Agent Orange/dioxin, I know that the support for Agent Orange victims is still limited."
Tran To Nga
August 10 is the 60th anniversary of the Agent Orange disaster in Vietnam. What message do you want to send to the international public as well as Vietnam?
I think, for myself, no matter what the final conclusion of the French court is, it is important to make the whole world aware of the Agent Orange disaster, condemn the chemical warfare and take action to bring justice to the world. It is also important to bring justice to the victims of Agent Orange, giving the victims a better and peaceful life.
Every day, I update the situation of Covid-19 in Vietnam, especially Ho Chi Minh City. This is the city where my relatives live. In this difficult time, I would like to share with the pain of the people who have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. I respect and admire the individuals who have been working and trying their best to ensure the peace and safety of the Vietnamese people.
I hope Vietnam will overcome the Covid-19 pandemic!
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