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Published On:24 December 2011
Posted by Indian Muslim Observer

Now Vietnam Victims of Agent Orange write to LOCOG to drop Dow Chemical from London Olympics’ sponsorship

By Pervez Bari

Bhopal: After the Indian Olympic Association demand to drop Dow Chemical from sponsorship of 2012 London Olympics following the clamour by the 1984 Bhopal Gas Tragedy victims, now the Vietnam Victims of Agent Orange have written to the Chairman of LOCOG to remove Dow Chemical as a sponsor for the London Olympics.

Nguyen Van Rinh, president of Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange/ Dioxin, (VAVA), wrote a letter dated November 30, 2011 which was hand delivered on December 22 to the office of LOCOG on behalf of 300,000 members of VAVA and three million victims of Agent Orange in Vietnam which asked to drop Dow Chemical as a sponsor for the Olympics.

The letter said: “Allowing such a company to sponsor Olympics/Paralympics – a cultural event of global magnitude is an affront to the conscience of humankind. Such sponsorship offers an incentive to commit other misconducts. For the sake of Olympic ideal, we urge you to drop Dow Chemical as a sponsor of these events”.

Mr. Van Rinh, who is also member of national Assembly, Vietnam, in his letter from Hanoi wrote that the Olympics and Paralympics stand for the triumph of the human mind and body as athletes engage in competition. Dow Chemical, however, has and continues to violate this spirit by manufacturing deadly chemicals that destroy the human mind and body.

He said in the letter that despite public outcry in many countries around the world Dow refuses to compensate its victims and clean up the lands it despoils. “We feel it is incumbent on the organizers to refuse a sponsor responsible for such misery and environmental devastation", he said.

The letter recalled that during the Vietnam war, from 1961 to 1971, Dow was one of the main companies that produced and supplied toxic chemicals to the US military for use in South Vietnam. These herbicides collectively called Agent Orange contain Dioxin, one of the most toxic poison known to science. Dow and other companies deliberately made Agent Orange with high levels of Dioxin to maximise its profits, even though it knew it could seriously devastate ecology and environment in Vietnam, and harmed many Vietnamese people. Millions have died and others left writhing in pain from lethal diseases. Several hundred thousand children have been born with serious birth defects.

The letter lamented: “It is ironic that Dow is allowed to sponsor sporting events including Paralympics athletes when it is responsible for creating three generations of severely disabled children and refused to do anything to help them. For decades, American, European and international public opinion have denounced Dow’s immoral actions and their violations of international law demanding it and other companies to compensate the victims of Agent Orange, not only in Vietnam but also in the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Korea”.

It may be mentioned here that during the Vietnam War the United States military sprayed nearly 20,000,000 US gallons (75,700,000 L) of chemical herbicides and defoliants in Vietnam, eastern Laos and parts of Cambodia, as part of the aerial defoliation program known as Operation Ranch Hand. The goal was to defoliate rural/forested land, depriving guerrillas of food and cover and clearing in sensitive areas such as around base perimeters. The program was also a part of a general policy of forced draft urbanization, which aimed to destroy the ability of peasants to support themselves in the countryside, forcing them to flee to the U.S. dominated cities, depriving the guerrillas of their rural support base.

According to Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 4.8 million Vietnamese people were exposed to Agent Orange, resulting in 400,000 people being killed or maimed, and 500,000 children born with birth defects.

Children in the areas where Agent Orange was used have been affected and have multiple health problems, including cleft palate, mental disabilities, hernias, and extra fingers and toes. In the 1970s, high levels of dioxin were found in the breast milk of South Vietnamese women, and in the blood of the U.S. soldiers who had served in Vietnam. The most affected zones are the mountainous area along Truong Son (Long Mountains) and the border between Vietnam and Cambodia.

[Pervez Bari is a senior Journalist based at Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. He is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Bureau Chief (Madhya Pradesh). He can be contacted at pervezbari@eth.net]

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