On Monday, a French court heard a case against more than a dozen multinational corporations for their rule in the production and selling of the highly toxic defoliant Agent Orange to the U.S. government, Common Dreams reports.
The lawsuit was first filed in 2014 by Tran To Nga, a currently 78-year-old activist and journalist who was exposed to Agent Orange when she worked in Vietnam during the War.
U.S. forces sprayed an estimated 80 million litres of Agent Orange over the jungles and farmland in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia from 1961 to 1971, and the effects of defoliant are still seen in Vietnam today, where thousands of children are diagnosed with congenital malformations every day, according to BBC. While the U.S. has provided a $180 million settlement fund to American veterans and their families that have been negatively affected by Agent Orange, it has not provided any such compensation to the people of Vietnam, according to VN Express.
Nga’s case is the first time a case by civilian victims of Agent Orange has been heard in court.
Nga has suffered a myriad of health problems related to Agent Orange exposure: Type Two Diabetes, a rare insulin allergy, tuberculosis and cancer, France24 reports. Her first daughter died of a heart malformation at 17 months old. She is also fighting for the scores of Vietnamese people who similarly suffer without any restitution.
“I’m not fighting for myself, but for my children and the millions of victims,” Nga said, according to BBC.
The multinational corporations have argued in response that as the producers of the defoliant, they cannot be held responsible for the U.S. government’s misuse of Agent Orange. Bayer, the owner of Mosanto, one of the firms charged in the suit, told Agence France-Presse that Agent Orange was created “under the sole management of the U.S. government for exclusively military purposes.”
Nga and her lawyers are expected to argue that these corporations misrepresented Agent Orange’s true level of toxicity to the U.S. government. Much of the defoliant’s danger stems from the usage of TCDD dioxin as an ingredient. TCDD dioxin is a known carcinogen linked to a variety of health issues including but not limited to skin lesions, severe birth defects and numerous cancers.
If Nga is successful, the effects of her lawsuit would be felt by generations to come.
“A recognition of Vietnamese civilian victims would constitute a legal precedent,” Valérie Cabanes, an international law specialist, told Agence France-Presse.
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taken from Tran To Nga’s Facebook