Dow Chemical, one of the American multinational companies that Tran To Nga sued in a French court, said that they were not responsible for the “wartime” problem when the US military sprayed Agent Orange over Vietnam and this case should be resolved through cooperation between the two governments.
Ms. Nga, who identified herself as a victim of Agent Orange, sued Dow and 13 other companies in a French court in a lawsuit that has dragged on for more than seven years. The Evry High Court, on the outskirts of Paris, on May 10 rejected her lawsuit, but the 79-year-old woman is filing an appeal.
“This ruling is consistent with the rulings of courts in the US that Dow and other manufacturers were forced by the US government to produce Agent Orange during the Vietnam War and are not responsible for the military (U.S.) use, transport or stores this herbicide,” a Dow representative said in response to VOA’s request for comment via email about the lawsuit filed by Nga, who was exposed to Agent Orange as a war correspondent for the Vietnam News Agency in the mid-1960s.
U.S. courts have dismissed the legal claims of Vietnam’s Agent Orange victims three times, including a 2008 lawsuit against 37 American chemical companies that used to produce the substance. toxic chemicals for use by the US military during the Vietnam War.
In the conclusion of the French court of Ms. Nga’s case seen by VOA, the court said that it did not have jurisdiction to hear a case related to the wartime actions of the US government and that this company only followed orders of the US Government.
Tran To Nga at a rally in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, on January 30, a few days after the trial of her lawsuit against companies that produced Agent Orange for the US military to spray over Vietnam in the war.
Reportedly, the US military sprayed nearly 72 million liters of herbicides, including at least 41.6 million liters of Agent Orange, into the forests of Vietnam, where North Vietnamese troops were hiding.
Ms. Nga told VOA in a recent interview that she continues to appeal not for the sake of compensation, but to seek justice for the millions of Agent Orange victims in Vietnam and many other parts of the world. Many soldiers from countries such as Australia, South Korea, the Philippines participated in the Vietnam War on the side of the US military and are believed to have also been exposed to this toxin.
In an email reply to VOA, Dow, one of the world’s three largest chemical manufacturers and headquartered in Michigan, saying that “this dispute is a matter of wartime” and “needs to be resolved through the ongoing cooperation between the governments of Vietnam and the US” although they “respect” those who served in the Vietnam War and were affected by this disaster.
On its website, Dow states that “the US government is responsible for its own military actions, including the development and use of Agent Orange in Vietnam.”
Chuck Searcy, a US war veteran who served in Vietnam and is currently a consultant for the Project RENEW project to support Agent Orange victims in Vietnam, said that US chemical companies say that being “required” by the US Government to produce Agent Orange is a “shirk” of responsibility. According to Mr. Searcy, these companies need to be held accountable in what he called a complex case where “justice and truth are hidden.”
Vietnam said it has an estimated 4.8 million victims of Agent Orange, many of whom are in later generations also indirectly affected by this agent when born with birth defects.
Although there is no scientifically proven link to the toxicity of dioxin to the victims in Vietnam, the US Government is currently helping Vietnam deal with the consequences of the war, including projects to clean up dioxins in “hot spots” such as Danang and Bien Hoa airports, and provides financial support to Vietnamese people who are believed to be severely disabled due to the effects of Agent Orange.
Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry said last month that it “regrets the court’s decision” in Evry and is “ready to assist” Ms. Nga in her case against Agent Orange companies.