Paris, France – A well-known case between a 79-year-old Vietnamese French woman and a 14-nation international has been the legal battle between David and Goliath.
Trần Tố If she has breast cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart and lung problems, insulin deficiency, and other serious illnesses.
In 1966, Vietnam’s former military journalist hid in the underground suburbs with fighters.
After a brief release, he was treated for the first time with a dangerous pesticide, called Agent Orange, used by US troops in the Vietnam War.
Like many other Vietnamese people, he continues to hear about her plight and claims to be torturing her.
In 2014, Trần filed a lawsuit against 14 agrochemical companies that formed and sold Agent Orange to the U.S. military, including U.S. companies Dow Chemical and Monsanto, now owned by German giant Bayer.
Monday, May 10, French court has been fired The case, calling Trần’s “unconstitutional” complaints, states that it has no jurisdiction to prosecute cases involving the US government’s actions in the war.
Despite this setback, Trần is determined to continue fighting for justice “for all those affected by Agent Orange.”
“Justice and the law are not the same. This was confirmed today, but soon, later [justice] they are coming, ”Trần told Al Jazeera.
At the request of Trần, his three lawyers from a law firm in Paris Bourdon & Associates, who work for pro-bono, have appealed the decision.
In a statement released Tuesday, he said the ruling “uses the old definition of legal protection,” and that the dioxin level included by Agent Orange is the responsibility of the companies that oppose it.
According to the Vietnamese Association of Victims of Agent Orange (VAVA), US troops sprayed about 80 million liters (21 million liters) of dangerous drugs into the Vietnam War between 1962 and 1971, as part of Operation Ranch Hand, plus 366kg (740) pounds) of dioxin across a quarter of a segment in South Vietnam.
Dioxin, contained in Agent Orange, is one of the worst drugs known to science.
It devastated the land and devastated the ecosystems of the vast region, as far as Laos and Cambodia. Many species of animals and plants became extinct, and once spread to fish and shrimp, dioxin contaminated humans.
VAVA estimates that 4.8 million people in Vietnam are ill or have been left disabled as a result of having Agent Orange.
Like Trần, many Vietnamese people – even two generations later – continue to suffer from related illnesses, including leukemia, Parkinson’s disease, Hodgkin’s, cancer, and congenital malformations.
Trần also lost her 17-year-old son to death because of a heart attack.
Agent Orange has also left a legacy in Vietnam.
Dr Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai, a Vietnamese novelist and journalist who writes extensively about Vietnam’s history, said he “remembers very well” how – as a child – his parents discussed whether they could eat fish caught in the Mekong Delta, which is often spoiled.
He later ate, because he was hungry, and because of what Agent Orange would not have been known until a long time later.
“We use the word ‘poison,’ [for Agent Orange], “Nguyen told Al Jazeera.
“I grew up in the suburbs and people used the word ‘poison’ because they knew it was poison. It can kill plants and animals, as well as kill people. ”
The author hopes that Trần will be the first Vietnamese to win a case in recognition of his illness, and relied on it after the verdict.
Military troops from the US, Australia and Korea have been welcomed in the wake of Agent Orange’s actions, most notably through the $ 180m Agent Orange Settlement Fund in 1984, but no decision has been ordered to repatriate the South-East- Asian victim.
These separate rulings have seen activists cite Trần’s case as an example of “racism,” an idea that emerged within the context of environmental justice in the 1970’s.
“The real point is: Why the two standards? Why are Americans paid, and what about the Vietnamese?” Thuy Tien Ho, Trần Tố Nga’s support committee leader, told Al Jazeera.
Another word that came out of the environmental group during the war in Vietnam, as well as that Trần’s lawyers claimed to be financial companies, is “ecocide” – used to describe environmental degradation.
In a statement sent to Al Jazeera, the Bayer spokesman said he agreed with the court’s decision to refute their claims and that wartime builders “are not responsible for any of the damages used by the government in the war”.
On Saturday, the annual march against Monsanto-Bayer and other violent giants continues, with tens of thousands of people expected to draw thousands to France.
The Trần story is shown as one of the biggest travel requests.
According to Thuy Tien Ho, Trần has “become a symbol” for fighting natural disasters in France.
While her loved ones are still worried about her health – her two daughters call her every morning to see if she is still alive – Trần is the one who encourages everyone.
Although his team was disappointed by the verdict, he saw it as a victory, as the case managed to inform the people involved in Agent Orange.
“Our goal is justice, and I know that if I have a good reason, I have to defend,” he said.
“What proves that my goal is justice is that I started on my own, and now, I am supported by hundreds of thousands of people around the world.”