[Marxism] Agent Orange lawsuit: an unjust, immoral verdict
mkaradjis at hn.vnn.vn
Mon Mar 14 22:26:24 MST 2005
Agent Orange lawsuit: an unjust, immoral verdict
Viet Nam News
by Anh Hieu
US Judge Jack B. Weinstein's dismissal on Thursday of the compensation
lawsuit by Vietnamese Agent Orange victims was unjust, immoral and an
irresponsible denial of the US's war crimes in Viet Nam.
And, it signals a new uphill battle for justice for Viet Nam despite the
solid body of evidence against the toxin's devastating effects on the land
and generation-after-generation of Vietnamese people.
Judge Weinstein claimed the documents presented in the New York Court were
not sufficient to decide Agent Orange caused these genetic defects in many
Vietnamese people. How then did a 1984 suit force Agent Orange manufacturers
to pay US$180 million to US war veterans on these very same grounds?
His contention also flies in the face of former US President Bill Clinton's
apologies to US veterans who served in Viet Nam for the lingering
ill-effects of Agent Orange on their health.
Clinton went on to admit that the US National Academy of Sciences and
Academy of Medicine discovered that the dioxin caused 13 different diseases
The government of New Zealand too has apologised to its veterans who were
exposed to the toxic chemical during the war.
If it had not been such a huge tragedy, it would be farcical: those who
spray the chemical get compensation but not the innocent victims who were
targeted. Truly has the US justice system become a laughing stock.
Weinstein claimed the US did not ban the use of toxic chemicals by 1975 or
sign any international treaty banning their use. He also said there was "no
law" to enforce the plaintiffs' claim that the firms were guilty of crimes
against humanity for making the toxin available.
It sounds hollow coming from a nation that has appointed itself the global
"human rights" and "justice" watchdog.
John McAuliff, director of the Fund for Reconciliation and Development,
pointed out that Weinstein paved the way for the US to continue evading
moral responsibility for its war crimes.
According to the American Constitution, all people have the right to live in
peace and liberty and pursue happiness. But the Thursday ruling denies the
same rights to millions of Vietnamese who are dead and dying because the US
sprayed Agent Orange.
The case also throws light on the dubious role played by the US Department
of Justice (DoJ). While it supported the American veterans in their 1984
class action, during the course of this suit, the DoJ issued a statement
saying the spraying of herbicides was legal according to US and
international laws. But, hopefully, Weinstein is not representative of the
quality of the entire US legal system. For, despite the ruling on Thursday,
the Vietnamese dioxin victims have the right to appeal to the US Courts of
Appeal and Supreme Court.
Pressure on the US legal system is bound to rise with the international
community vowing to stay on Viet Nam's side as it pursues the lawsuit.
Justice for the Agent Orange victims is not inconceivable. - VNS
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