For many years, the National Lawyers Guild, along with other groups most notably Veterans for Peace, and Vietnam Veterans Against the War, has been part of the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief and Responsibility Campaign. The work is being done primarily by the Agent Orange working group which is a subcommittee of the International Committee.)
The NLG supported the lawsuit NLG members brought on behalf of Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange against the chemical companies that manufactured Agent Orange during the mid- 2000’s. Unfortunately that case was not successful. Now we are part of a national and international campaign to mark the 51st anniversary, (August 10, 1961) of the beginning of the spraying. This campaign is called: 51 seconds of silence and at least 51 seconds of action campaign.
As you know, the United States used Agent Orange and other toxic herbicides to defoliate much of the South of Vietnam during the US War against Vietnam from 1961 to 1971. The US sprayed millions of gallons of these dioxin laden chemicals over vast land areas of the South making no distinction between military and civilian objects. The result is that millions of Vietnamese, (and US veterans) have already died of injuries and diseases acknowledged by the United States government to be associated Agent Orange exposure for purposes of the Agent Orange disability program. There are currently hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese victims who are suffering without relief. Most heartbreaking are the victims born with severe birth defects and the fact that there are many areas where the dioxin levels of the land are very high and people are still being exposed. Second and third generations of exposed Vietnamese are being born with horrific birth defects and diseases which the government of Vietnam is not able to fully address given its resources.
Representative Robert Filner, ranking member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee in the House of Representatives has introduced HR 2634 known as the Victims of Agent Orange Relief Act of 2011. There are currently 12 co-sponsors of this bill. It provides support for Vietnamese victims, remediation of the contaminated land as well as support for children and grandchildren of US Veterans and US Vietnamese who are affected by Agent Orange.
Therefore, on August 10, at 12 noon we request you and your friends take 51 seconds of silence and think about the victims of war and what we need to do to prevent future war. And after that we request you sign the postcard supporting the legislation.