Wednesday May 22, 2013
Support Surges for Agent Orange FightRoger Bagley Special to Salem-News.com
Thirty-seven years after the end of the Vietnam war, children are still being born with severe disabilities arising from US use of Agent Orange.
(WESTMINSTER, UK) - A broad campaign to aid severely suffering Vietnamese victims of US defoliant Agent Orange went into a higher gear today with surging support at Westminster.
Even Prime Minister David Cameron signalled a nod of approval at a fundraising event organised by MPs on Monday night - although there is still no sign of large-scale British government cash aid.
In a symbolic gesture, Mr Cameron donated a signed copy of one of his favourite books to help raise cash for a new cancer hospital in Da Nang and a treatment centre in Ho Chi Minh City.
His choice of "Finest Years: Churchill as Warlord 1940-45" by Max Hastings raised £350 in an auction held in Parliament's Attlee Suite.
Labour leader Ed Miliband raised £400 with a signed copy of one of his most-loved books, written by Gillian Slovo, daughter of leading South African communists Joe Slovo and Ruth First.
Ms Slovo's book Every Secret Thing: My Family, My Country tells of her experiences growing up with revolutionary parents.
Thirty-seven years after the end of the Vietnam war, children are still being born with severe disabilities arising from US use of Agent Orange, and 4.8 million people are living with the effects.
Parliament's all-party Vietnam group chair George Howarth MP organised Monday's event after MPs were moved to tears at a Ho Chi Minh hospital on a visit to severely disabled child victims.
Britain-Vietnam Friendship Society secretary Len Aldis hailed the event, which raised over £5,000, and urged trade unionists to weigh in with support.
He urged this year's TUC congress to endorse the fund-raising campaign for Agent Orange victims.
Mr Aldis said he had personally delivered a letter to Olympics organiser Sebastian Coe from the Vietnamese confederation of trade unions protesting against sponsorship by Dow Chemicals, one of the major US companies involved in producing Agent Orange and Napalm.
Speaking at the Westminster event, Vietnamese ambassador Vu Quang Minh expressed continued gratitude for the huge protests in Britain against the war.
He added that Anglo-Vietnam relations were now "the best ever."
Foreign Office minister Jeremy Browne predicted an "extremely bright" future for Vietnam.
It was still a poor country, but was "on a real forward trajectory, with a hard-working, educated, young population."
By Roger Bagley in Parliament
Special thanks to Morning Star
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