"If we found dioxin contamination on this scale just outside Los
Angeles, we'd have an emergency team in there within 24 hours," he
During a research trip there in 1999, Schecter detected the highest
dioxin levels recorded anywhere in Vietnam since 1973, undermining
scientists' previous assumption the toxin was gradually broken down in
the environment. Declassified records have revealed Bien Hoa was the
site of a wartime accident in which between 5,000 and 7,000 gallons of
Agent Orange were spilled.
God help us
Your president Clinton was telling how sorry he was for the 850
Americans who suffered from Ogent Orange syndrom, but he forgot to
mention the 8-900 000 vietnameese teens and children who were born
handicaped because of genetic changes inflicted on their parent by Agent
In an open letter to US President Bill Clinton, Len Aldis, Secretary
of the Britain-Vieät Nam Friendship Society, reminds him that 25 years
on from the end of America’s war on Viet Nam, there are one million
victims of Agent Orange and 270,000 Vietnamese missing in action.
See the open letter to Mr. Clinton on http://vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn/2000-06/24/comment.htm
Or read it here:
Dear Mr President,
In a few months’ time you will be standing down from the office of
President of the United States of America, economically and militarily
the strongest nation in the world today. Many, including yourself, will
reflect on your period of office to assess the mark you have left on
In your eight years as President you have introduced many policies,
some negative some positive. Before you leave the White House I would
hope you will take a decision that will positively mark your place in
history. Please, acknowledge the terrible legacy your country has left
to the people and land of Vieät Nam through the use of the chemicals
developed and produced by American companies, commonly known as Agent
You took a small step along this road on May 28,1996, when in the
White House, you became the first US President to admit the damage, and
I quote: "unintentionally caused its own sons and daughters by
exposing them to Agent Orange".
It was unfortunate that you made no mention of the damage caused to
the sons and daughters of Vieät Nam and their land.
On April 30, 2000, I celebrated along with millions of Vietnamese and
their friends in many lands, the 25th anniversary of the liberation and
reunification of their country.
It was a great occasion made even more welcome by the many thousands
of people from other countries - including America – who had come to
Vieät Nam to join in the commemoration.
As in an earlier visit in 98, I travelled to a number of provinces,
and met with many people of all ages, affected by and suffering from
disabilities –a legacy of the bombs, shells, cluster bomblets, still
in the ground.
In the province of Quaûng Trò alone, 700 are killed and injured
each year as a result of these weapons used 25 years ago–and from the
effects of Agent Orange.
The number of victims of Agent Orange has now reached one million,
one in seventy-eight of the population. Mr President, that’s a
terrible legacy for any country to leave another.
In the photos I have attached, you can see who I call the innocents
were born after the war ended in 1975. They are suffering for no fault
of their own. Just as the children of the American forces who served in
Vieät Nam are also suffering. But at least you have made amends to them
by agreeing to pay compensation.
During my visit to Quaûng Trò, I went to the district of Cam Loä,
I saw two children of a soldier, one of whose arms are tied to her body
24 hours a day, to prevent her beating her head and face. She is just
eight years old.
In Haø Noäi I met another soldier born in 1958 and who served in
Taây Ninh Province from 1982 to 85, an area heavily sprayed with Agent
Orange. I met one of his two sons, born 1995, suffering from Non-Hodgkin
Lymphoma, an illness defined by your own National Academy of Sciences as
being one of a number of illnesses associated with exposure to the
herbicide "Agent Orange".
On the way to the northern town of Tuyeân Quang, we called at the
village of An Khang and met with a veteran, Leâ Quang Vònh. He served
in Laos from 1971 to 75. With him were four of his six children. All the
four I saw had disabilities. The eldest, a young man of 25, is and will
be confined to his wheelchair for the rest of his life. His younger
brother (10) was eager to show me how after two years of therapy at the
nearby Höông Sen Centre, he can walk–stiffly and slowly, across the
room of his house. Eight paces for the young lad. His smile and effort
brought a round of applause from all present.
The youngest daughter (eight years old) was by the window. Her
disability clearly was "Spina Bifida", another illness defined
by the National Academy of Sciences as evidence of association from
exposure from Agent Orange.
At the end of our visit, the young son was carried, by his elder
sister who had come in from school, to one of our cars and went with us
to the Höông Sen Centre. Here were some 28 youngsters having their
lunch, many were in wheelchairs, and due to their disability, being fed
by young people, volunteers, who come to the centre to help out at
mealtimes and during the day.
Some of the children stay as boarders at the centre, other come on a
daily basis for their meals, treatment and exercises, like the young lad
for his therapy.
Mr President, for some victims –remember there are now one million
- there is hope that some treatment will help. For the overwhelming
majority, the best one can do is to see that the rest of their lives –be
it months or years–be made as comfortable as possible for the victims
themselves as well as for their parents. One of their concerns is:
"What happens to my son/s, daughter/s when I’m not here?"
These are just a few examples I saw during my visit of the legacy
America has left Vieät Nam.
Mr President, there is still time for you to act before you hand over
the reins of presidential office. Time for you to act on behalf of the
American people to accept responsibility for the suffering caused to the
people of Vieät Nam as you did on May 28,1996 for the suffering Agent
Orange caused to the American forces.
Despite the comments and statements by Madeleine Albright, your
Secretary of State and Pete Peterson, the American Ambassador to Vieät
Nam, denying Agent Orange as the cause and calling for more research,
this a year after your statement admitting the damage caused by Agent
Orange, the evidence is there, researched and published by the American
National Academy of Sciences. Other international organisations have
also carried out some of their research in Vieät Nam itself.
If you need more evidence, carry out further research, but in the
meantime what happens to the victims in Vieät Nam today? Many thousands
have died before and since your statement in 1996. How many more must
die, how many will continue to live their wretched lives before the
American Government accepts and faces up to their responsibility and
compensation is paid to the Vietnamese victims as you said it will be
paid to the American victims.
Take this final step, leave the White House as the President that
accepted and made amends for the terrible legacy it left to the people
of another country.
When you speak to the Vietnamese people on this issue, and that of
their (270,000) sons and daughters whose bodies are still to be found 25
years after, they will tell you: "We feel no anger and want to go
forward, but we cannot, and will not forget our past."
This feeling could be seen as relatives visited the cemeteries of
those who made the ultimate sacrifice for the nation even as the nation
celebrated its reunification on April 30.
Let me end with the comment of an American friend who served in
Vieät Nam and took part in the spraying of Agent Orange. "Len, You’ve
seen only the aftermath. I’ve seen the war in progress as well as its
aftermath, the two together are overwhelming...."
Looking forward to your reply
Len Aldis, Secretary
Britain-Vieät Nam Friendship Society