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tv   Inside Story  Al Jazeera  December 31, 2014 3:30am-4:01am EST

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myanmar. reminder that you can keep up to date with all the news on our website, is the address. all the news that we have been covering a lot of opinion and comment, very interesting pages to peruse, is the address. justice. >> over 50 years ago in the early days of the vet no, ma'am war, american forces began using a potent new herbicide known as "agent orange." it was designed to clear forests divided i have provided the vet kong with food. the
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deadly effects of that poison can be seen in the sickness and disabilities that have affected millions of people and the feeling of shame they have induced in some american vets. >> i grew up thinking america did everything good. i came to vietnam and i realized, we killed actually six million people the u.s. cannot ac-s the morality or the immore immorality of what we did here. >> vietnam today is more peaceful and prosperous than 5 decades but the human
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consequences of its long war with america are still very apparent. every new generation has its victims. [speaking vietnamese]
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. >> at orange and other dies were part of the war. between 1961 and 1971, over 80 million liters were separated. at first, its use was tactical. then a more strategic apparent. >> the second reason was to reduce the capacity of rural people to produce foods for themselves and to drive them to
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the cities so that they would not be as ridley available to become supporters of the enemies of the south sglns. >> by the end of the war, about 15th of the country as well as parts of lao and cambodia were affected. the poison stripped away mile after mile of tropical vegetation. >> these are forests and no effect of herbicide here and these many that work. many tigers, elephant, monkey, et cetera. the effect, the tree
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die, no fruit. one of the worst polluted areas was central vietnam nam's highlands. they repeatedly sprayed this area. the lines on the map represent the routes they took. in 1963, local doctor ho van moi witnessed spraying not far from the ho chi min trail. the children of many local village families were born with serious fiscal
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disabilities. 24-year-old ki van bok is typical. his father died of cancer and his mother has been treated. both served with the vet kong during the war. mentally healthy, he has been i am prisoned in a ravaged body since birth. he needs constant care and attention from his mother. they have little money and food is always scarce. vietnam has 50 ethnic minority groups. most have roots in the heavily completed areas of the country. they have surfed disproportionately from the war-time toxins. the government has relocated mistaken thousands of them. many of the remaining mountain villagers have been reluctant to move from their homes, not least because of the sigma associated from having an agent orange victim in the family. for example, one disabled relative can stop the other
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family members finding marriage partners. they are thus seen as taboo. and often kept secret. >> so many of the children knew i don't know how many. nevertheless over the decades, inhabitants have learned much about the causes of agent orange and to be more cautious. they know tox in-laws will transfer to people. only certain parts can be
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eaten. with so major victims to study, it hasn't been able to and a wide range of serious
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millions of vietnamese have been affected by wartime poisening. the fact that so many need long-term care is a major challenge to the country. it is often said to act as a break in it's long-term economic development. vava, the vietnam association of victims of agent orange was established after the war they represent health services and fund raises for their long-term treatment which costs tennessee of millions of dollars every year. the money comes mainly from the vietnam government. r, ngosnd chair at this. little if any of this care has been forthcoming from the u.s. government or from the dozens of manufacturers of toxic herb sides used during the
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war. for american official the plight of agent oranges victims is by those who for the in vietnam. this is the friendship village outside of hanoi. it's run by former combatants from six countries including america 40 vietnamese war veterans are recovering in the village. >> many american soldiers have
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died from agent orange in america. we were sprayed by our own helicopters and they sprayed us as well as spraying him times a lot of times we would come into an area after it had been sprayed. the vietnamese had it much worse because they were here for those years after we went home for one year. dioxin doesn't take a long time too become poisoned by it. many of our children are very, very ill and now grandchildren, especially with spina bifida. lee high school ti high school hoi has lived in the village
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for 25 years. >> setting up the friendship village has been more than an act of atonement. it hawes allowed them to deal with their own scores left over from the war. >> the vietnamese never blamed me as an individual for the war. they don't like my country, richard nixon or johnson. at the tell me you were a young boy doing what your country asked of you he was a marine in the jungle for the demil tarized zone. when patrolling on the border between the north and south, death was a constants come pannion?
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he was badly wounded i recovered and returned to the u.s. there he noticed the war had changed his whole life. >> i had storebuild my foundation. as a human being it took many years and a lot of alcohol and drugs and a lot of chasing around the the the man stopped me and in pigeon english asked me, had i been to vietnam. first, they always ask you your age. so they know how to relate with you. and asked me if i had been to vietnam before. i thought, that's why i am here. i said, yes. i was a third marine, 1968. he said you are the
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enemy. my heart almost stopped. i said he was the enemy here he put his arms around me and said welcome to vietnam. when that happened, it just made me changed me and i realized i am a human being. >> no no more ricks, no more stupid questions. no more heroes and no more headlines. it was only missile. >> over two and a half million americans served in the vietnam war.
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it had problems and some veterans brought home concentrations in their blood that would affect generations of vietnamese. >> they called us non-combatants and gave us jobs like unloading ordnance. whatever. sorry. one of the things we did was barrels of what they said was insecticide to kill mosquitoes here it was a very emotional >> sunday night. >> 140 world leaders will take
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facebook for more stories, more access, more conversations. so you don't just stay on top of the news, go deeper and get more perspectives on every issue. al jazeera america. soon after war, american veterans began campaigning to get wartime compensation. after an orderouos fight, the industry agreed to divide money for their families. it was important for them to get similar compensation so far failed.
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the most recent class action suit against the manufacturers was dismissed by the u.s. supreme court in 2009. it ruled the toxins were intended to destroy flora and veg vegetation, not to harm people and that links between the injuries of millions of vietnamese and agent orange were not proven. the same position has always been taken by the best known producer of agent orange, the multi-national chemical corporation, monsanto. while it says it simympathizes with the vietnamese sick and disabled, it has denied any connection between herbicide. it's echoed by all of the other toxin producers. >> i grew up thinking america did everything good. then i came to vietnam and realized we killed actually 6 million people for no reason whatsoever. and we sprayed this agent orange. and to me, the u.s.a. cannot accept the morality or the immorality of what we did here so it's best to ignore it.
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>> but i see hard for the vietnamese victims to ignore it. hun is 17. there are five children in his family. three of them have birth defects. he was born with a spinal cord defect, spina bifida, a well well-known consequence of dioxin poisoning. both of his parents are dead and were exposed to agent orange during the war. he receives a tiny monthly sub diddy from the government but it barely covers every day expenses now he works in ho chi spring city and has to support himself by selling water tickets. the effects of agent orange have been stud irvinged in the u.s. and vietnam. american scientist have found herbicide causes or triggers at least 17 different diseases. in contrast, studies by greene peace put the numbers at well over 100. no one knows for sure.
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>> that can be a problem for gene mutation. after that, it's become a genetic disease and can't transmit to many, many generation. maybe forever if the happen. i don't know. we need the answer. [speaking anniversaries of the end of the vietnam come and go. cleaning up the old battlefield
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will continue for generations. there are areas in vietnam where toxin levels are 400 times higher than normal. the city of donang is one such place. the former u.s. air base here is a well-known hot spot polluted by super toxins. an agent orange facility was at one end of the airfield. here, poison was pumped into the tanks of air crafts and helicopters before spraying. over the years, thousands of liters of hazardous herbicides were spilled on the ground contaminating the soil. in the decades since, those toxins have been carried by groundwater to the nearby city. today, the base is closed to the public, a spercial permit is needed just to film him
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minutes. >> it's 35 years since america withdrew from vietnam. however, most of that time, the u.s. government has shown little interest in the medical devastation caused by the toxins. the but more recently, a moral reawakening has gathered pace. in 2010, the prestigious institute published a 3-year study of the problem and its problem to clean up the mess. >> i have always believed american's foreign policy has to be based upon onboth our strategic interests and or moral values. and there is no better example of something that's both in our strategic interests and part of or moral values than to clean up mess. >> according to the study, it will take 10 years to clean up the toxins if the u.s. government pays the lion's share of the cost and other funding comes from charitable donations
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and vietnamese, themselves. institute calculates the toxins can be removed for $300,000,000 u.s. dollars. >> that's less than the cost of the bp oil spill. after decades of dragging its feet, the u.s. authorized spending of $32 million toward the clean-up at the donang air base. clean asking up the worst of the toxic pockets will do little to diminish the dead frill human cost. it's a cost hong kon chu and his family have to pay every day.
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>> if the suspicions that you dioxins are mutugenic, it will generations. it's likely pregnant women in vietnam will be haunted by one particular question: will my child become the next innocent victim of the vietnam war?
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