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The Agent Orange Games?

Lord Coe. Chair; Sir Keith Mills, Deputy Chair; HRH the Princess Royal; Charles Allen; Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari; Sir Phillip Craven; Paul Deighton, Chief Exe; Jonathan Edwards; Tony Hall; Andrew Hunt; Justin King; Stephen Lovegrove; Adam Penglly; Tim Reddish; Lord Moynihan; Sir Craig Reedie; Martin Stewart; Sir Robin Wales. Mayor of Newham; Neil Wood.

In a few weeks, unless you take action, the Olympic Stadium will have been surrounded by a wrap comprising 336 giant panels made by a company responsible for deaths of many thousands, including thousands of babies that died in their mother’s womb.  Responsible for the deaths of many more thousands of those that lived for just a few months.

That company is Dow Chemical, whose record was known to each and everyone of you through the many court cases it has had brought against them in the United States for disposing of tonnes of highly toxic waste into rivers and lakes near its plants. For lawsuits brought by American Vietnam Veterans and Vietnamese suffering from the effects of Agent Orange.

But let me remind each of you, the biggest crime of Dow Chemical was its part, along with 35 other U.S. Chemical Companies, headed by Monsanto, in manufacturing Agent Orange used with devastating effect on Southern Vietnam for a period of TEN-YEARS, yes, TEN-YEARS.  80 million litres of the chemical was sprayed over the forests, crops, hamlets and the PEOPLE themselves, from August 1961 to 1971, resulting in the deaths mentioned above.

Through the use of Agent Orange, Dow Chemical and the others have left a legacy that today in Vietnam affects four million.  It has also entered into the fourth generation.  From my first visit in 1989 and each year since, I have met and seen many of these tragic victims, of all ages, from new born babies that are minus feet and sometimes hand, young children suffering from water on the brain, and their heads four-times the normal size where their illness is slowly crushing the brain that ends in death.

 I have met with youngsters minus a limb, some minus two; some will be confined to a bed or wheelchair for the rest of their lives unable to fend for themselves.  In Dong Nai I met a mother and her two daughters both unable to move or speak but just lay on their bed, the mother looks after them and their needs and has done so for 42 years, the age of her eldest daughter, the other daughter is 36 years.  I could describe more of the people I have met over the past 22 years.  But what angers me more is when I see children affected that were born after the spraying stopped in 1971 and long after the ward ended in 1975.

This is what Dow Chemicals has done to the people of Vietnam, and each of you have seemed fit to support the appointment of the company to be a sponsor of the Games that opens in London on 27th July despite the many objections made by people from a number of countries.

Shame on you all.

LEN ALDIS is secretary of the Britain-Vietnam Friendship Society.

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