A Call to Action on Orange Day (August 10, 2010)
Five decades ago, on August 10, 1961, U.S. forces conducted the first spraying mission of so-called “herbicides” or “defoliants,” beginning the chemical warfare which lasted for almost 10 years (1961-71). The use of Agent Orange brought about untold human death and suffering, as well as environmental destruction to South Vietnam and surrounding areas. Consequently, this date has become an annual commemoration—the “Day for Victims of Agent Orange in Vietnam” (or “Orange Day”) to remind all of us about a major disaster for humanity.
With about 80 million litres of toxic herbicides, mostly Agent Orange, containing high concentrations of dioxin, the most powerful toxin ever known, this “chemical warfare” was sprayed on at least 4.8 million Vietnamese and poisoned 3 million of them. Out of this population, many have died or are dying, many who survive, especially children born with severe deformities, suffer a fate even worse than death.
A year has gone by from August 10, 2009 to August 10, 2010, the world has changed, human civilization has made a new step, the understanding of the toxicity of Agent Orange has reached a new depth, interactive relationships among countries and peoples have become more widespread, the aspiration of people to live together peacefully is more and more urgent and of course the struggle for justice of victims of Agent Orange the world over has intensified.
Yet, justice and truly meaningful fairness for Vietnamese victims still remain mainly an aspiration. Despite all efforts by the government and people of Vietnam, supported by the contributions of progressive humanity, the life of Vietnam’s Agent Orange victims is still extremely wretched. Many of them face ever worsening severe illnesses or discover new diseases, many others can no longer work to earn their own living and support their families, and many children with birth defects are suffering and getting nearer to death.
On the occasion of August 10, 2010, as the organization representing the victims of Agent Orange in Vietnam, we hereby call upon:
All Agent Orange victims in all countries, especially U.S. veterans, all victims of acts of war and genocide to build closer solidarity with us in the struggle for their justice and justified interests.
All individuals, non-governmental organisations and governments all over the world to do their best to support the victims of Agent Orange in Vietnam, both materially and spiritually.
We also call upon the U.S. Congress and government to realise that it is a good time for them and for all people to clearly recognise their responsibility for the consequences of the past chemical warfare, in order that the peoples of both our nations strengthen friendship imbued in peace and development.
On behalf of 3 million victims of Agent Orange in Vietnam, we would like to send you our greetings and many thanks for whatever help you have extended in recent years.
This pain is not ours alone, it hurts everyone!
The Central Board of the Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange/dioxin
Nguyen Van Rinh,