Culture Culture

18/11/2018 - 21:43

Story from the photos

More than 200 images and artifacts of the Agent Orange/Dioxin disaster are on display at the Museum of History, Hue City (from Oct. 25 to Nov. 25) in the exhibition "Orange - Consciousness and Justice". The exhibition is a call for everyone to join hands to soothe the suffering of Agent Orange victims.

The exhibition attracts the attention of many people, including students

“A picture is worth a thousand words”

Viewers are left with a feeling of heartache after seeing pictures of people who are deformed as a result of Agent Orange. The most moving is the story of Nguyen Thi Men, 21 years old, in Thai Binh. Affected by Agent Orange dioxin, Nguyen Thi Men lives like a wild creature in a crib for decades. Her rare moment of consciousness occurred when she took hold of her father’s hand, recognizing him, Mr. Nguyen Van Hang, who had fought to protect Truong Son Road and had been exposed to the toxic defoliants.

Because of this cruel poison, many families had fallen into a pit of despair. The four siblings Phong, Thao, Huong, and Ha in Chau Thanh District, Tien Giang Province or the three children of Ms. Nguyen Thi Bich Ngoc in District 11, Ho Chi Minh City are all affected by Agent Orange, causing deformity on their bodies. Le Thi Hieu of Bac Son Commune and Ke Van Bac and Pi Riu Xia of A Ngo Commune (A Luoi) are the second and third generation bedridden by Agent Orange.

The poison has no mercy for anyone. Even the veterans of the American and South Korean armies who were in the battlefield in Vietnam were also exposed. Their children were born defective. The image of a girl called Jennifer with birth defects in her right arm because her father, Daniel Lonny, fought in the Vietnam War, is a warning for war crimes.

Pham Thi Thuy Linh’s miraculous legs (Ho Chi Minh City)

The long, devastating chemical war has left enormous consequences for the environment. Millions of hectares of forests are devastated, causing ecological imbalance. Pictures of the once lush forests, mountains, rivers, mangrove forests, and villages, etc., which had been turned into lifeless deserts truly emphasize the destruction of the chemical war.

In opposition to the traumatic images of the Vietnamese landscape and people, viewers can see how the Vietnamese soldiers had successful disabled the means by which the US military used to spray chemical weapons. The masks, tactical barrels, plastic canisters containing poison, and bombs displayed in the exhibition are a testimony to what the war has caused to the people of Vietnam.

Despite the enormous suffering, the Agent Orange victims have overcome the pain and disabilities to integrate into the community. There are many warm, touching stories about people with extraordinary energy and optimism.

One of such extraordinary people is Pham Viet Tuong (Quang Nam) who goes to school on his father's back but has achieved high results in school for many years. Another touching story is of Pham Thi Thuy Linh (Ho Chi Minh City) with her miraculous legs which can grasp hold of a brush to paint. These legs have turned the handicapped child without arms into a gifted, aspiring artist. Many will remember the famous twins Viet and Duc. Only Duc survives, but he is living his life to the fullest...

Forests destroyed by defoliants

Soothing the pain

The exhibition "Orange - Consciousness and Justice" is co-organized by the Museum of Chemical Corps, War Remnants Museum of Ho Chi Minh City and Thua Thien Hue Museum of History. The exhibition introduces over 200 images, documents and artifacts related to the Agent Orange / Dioxin disaster. The exhibition is divided into four parts: Orange Disasters - Orange Pain, Vietnam overcoming the consequences of the chemical war, VAVA activities and the journey to find justice, the examples of victims rising above difficulties.

In just 10 years (from 1961 to 1971), the US military had sprayed 80 million liters of toxic chemicals on to the Vietnamese battlefield. The mountainous areas of A Luoi, Nam Dong, Phu Loc and Phong Dien districts of Thua Thien Hue province are places which have been seriously affected, both in terms of human health and ecological environment, especially in the Ahso area of A Luoi district...

Major General Ha Van Cu, Commander of the Chemical Warfare Forces, said: "The war has ended for more than 40 years, but the devastating consequences of war in Vietnam are severe. The US military conducted a comprehensive chemical war in South Vietnam. It has caused an orange disaster in Vietnam with the persistent pain for those who have experienced the war and for their descendants."

4,8 million people in Viet Nam have been directly exposed to the dioxin poison during the war. Among them are 3 million victims of the poison; many of whom are the second or third generation. Many families have 3 or more victims, even up to 15 victims in one family. Hundreds of thousands of people are struggling with the consequences of the dioxin poison on a daily basis. Many women are deprived of the happiness of being a wife or a mother; or so many children are born with deformities, living in a persistent vegetative state. Only with the help and support of the whole society can this pain be softened; and, the struggle for justice of victims of Agent Orange be continued.

Story and photos: Minh Hien

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