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May 11, 2021 / 16:44

German Communist Party expresses support for Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange

A 79-year-old French-Vietnamese woman filed a historic lawsuit against multinationals that produced and sold a toxic herbicide dubbed as “Agent Orange” used by US troops during the war in Vietnam.

The Communist Party of Germany (DKP) declared its unity and support for Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange, including Tran To Nga, a 79-year old woman who filed a historic lawsuit against multinational chemical companies.

The KPD made its view clear in a statement sent on May 10 to the Vietnam’s Embassy in Germany, after a French court ruled that  it did not have jurisdiction to judge a case involving a French-Vietnamese woman against 14 multinationals, including Dow Chemical and Monsanto [presently owned by German-based Bayer], for producing and selling a toxic herbicide dubbed as “Agent Orange”, used by US troops during the war in Vietnam.

 Tran To Nga. Photo: Julien Falsimagne

The DKP added such ruling once again ignored millions of Vietnamese people who fell victims to the chemical war conducted by the US during the war.

The Bourdon and associates Law firm, which represents Nga and other Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange, stressed its commitment to support Nga and hopes she would continue to fight until the end.

In another move, Nga has filed an appeal to a higher-level court. Her lawyers, William Bourdon, Amelie Lefebvre and Bertrand Repolt, said the court’s ruling on May 10 was based on an obsolete definition of the immunity of jurisdiction principle which contradicted modern principles of international and national laws.

  Tran To Nga during one of her activities for victims of Agent Orange in France. Photo: Collectif Vietnam-Dioxine

Bourdon added he was surprised that the court accepted these firms’ explanation that they were forced to act under pressure from the US government when in fact they had voluntarily took part in US government’s bidding for contracts.

Nga’s lawsuit was a journey of 10 years. In the 2009-2013 period, Nga prepared evidences to prove she was among victims of Agent Orange to file a lawsuit in France.

In May 2013, Evry court in Paris accepted her lawsuit against 26 US chemical firms, and the first trial was opened on April 2014, requesting the presence of 19 firms in the list, as many had already dissolved.

Nga was the only person in the world capable of legally representing Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange in the court as she meets three conditions of being a French Vietnamese; is currently residing in the only country with legal system allowing the opening of international lawsuit to protect its citizens against another country, and a victim of Agent Orange.

In 2009, a US federal court dismissed the lawsuit from Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange against 37 US chemical firms.

During the American War in Vietnam, the US military sprayed nearly 80 million liters of toxic chemicals, containing 366 kilograms of dioxin in area of up to 1/4 of the territory of South Vietnam, causing most ecosystems destroyed, many species of animals and plants disappeared. As a result, 4.8 million Vietnamese people were exposed to the toxins, and more than three million of them fell victims to the chemical war, many died and others are struggling with serious diseases including cancer and birth deformities.