An open letter to the US Supreme Court

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and in particular to Chief Justice Roberts, Justice Stevens and Justice Thomas

A year ago, March 2009, your court denied the appeal of behalf of over three million Vietnamese seriously affected from the effects of the herbicide Agent Orange. By so doing you found in favor of the thirty-seven American chemical companies headed by two of the major ones, namely Monsanto and Dow Chemical, which had manufactured Agent Orange

Thirty-two-year-old Mai Van Khuyen (L), an Agent Orange victim in the north central province of Thanh Hoa, is embraced by his mother. Both Khuyen and his sibling inherited AO from their father, a veteran, who was exposed to the toxin during the Vietnam War.

Your court also denied the appeal of American veterans affected by Agent Orange. This outrageous denial became more obnoxious as no reason was given by the seven, yes, seven justices who presided over the appeal.

The victims of Agent Orange, for this is what they are, victims, of all ages, from babies to pensioners, are suffering from various illnesses and severe disabilities that are painful to see, let alone bearing the pain itself. The Vietnamese and American veterans are suffering from the same effects caused by Agent Orange. A Vietnamese teenager with spina bifida is the same as an American teenager whose father served in Vietnam. Yet by your actions you denied justice to both.

Agent Orange has no end, in Vietnam it has travelled into the third generation of the victims and will soon, if not already, enter into the fourth generation, how many more generations must go through this suffering before Justice is served?

The US Supreme Court has nine Justices, the Chief Justice and eight others, they are there for life. So why was it left to seven to preside over these appeals? No reasons were offered to the court or to the victims. Yet here was an appeal involving millions of Vietnamese and hundreds of thousands of Americans and you, Chief Justice Roberts, and you, Justice Stevens, decided to sit this one out. Shame on you both. But what of Justice Thomas? He was the one Justice that should have stood down from the appeal hearing. He had good personal reasons to do so. As a lawyer, he had worked for over two years for Monsanto in their Pesticide and Agriculture Department.

Justice Thomas, that was a clear case of a conflict of interest and I'm not a lawyer.

The rejection of the appeal by the Supreme Court cannot be allowed to stop the Justice that all victims of Agent Orange deserve. Despite the rejection the campaign must, and will continue. The American government, Monsanto, Dow Chemicals and the others who are guilty of the use of Agent Orange on Vietnam, must accept their responsibility - even though the Supreme Court failed to accept theirs. We will continue to seek justice and for compensation to be paid to all the victims and to their families, for it is the families that have to face and deal with the day to day consequences of the suffering of their sons and daughters affected by Agent Orange.

Len Aldis
Secretary Britain-Vietnam Friendship Society

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