New Zealand supplied Agent Orange chemicals to the US military during the Vietnam war, a government minister has revealed. \nThe disclosure led to immediate claims that New Zealand was in breach of the Geneva convention and could face a flood of lawsuits from veterans and Vietnamese. \nTransport Minister Harry Duynhoven said the highly toxic chemical was sent to a US base in the Philippines during the 1960s. \n"The information that has been given to me is that products used to make Agent Orange were shipped from New Plymouth to Subic Bay in the Philippines," he told the Sunday News newspaper. \nAfter nearly three decades of official denials, a high-level parliamentary committee formally acknowledged late last year that New Zealand soldiers in the Vietnam War were significantly exposed to Agent Orange, but no mention was ever made that the country was a supplier. \nAlthough the National Party was in power during the Vietnam War, Duynhoven said his current Labor government was responsible for setting the record straight. \n"Any government has to deal with the situation it finds itself in and it's always a problem if previous governments leave a mess." \nVeterans spokesman John Moller said the government must compensate ex-soldiers and their families, some of whom have suffered generations of health problems. \n"It's bloody unacceptable what the New Zealand government has done to us and the other countries involved in the war," he said. \n"Through their deceit, cover-up and negligence, the New Zealand government has the blood of thousands of Kiwis, Vietnamese, Australians and Americans on their hands." \nUnder the Geneva Convention, countries cannot be party to chemical warfare and must declare the use or supply of defoliants during conflicts. \nThe vice-chancellor of Canterbury University, Scott Davidson, an authority on international law, said the government had left itself open to lawsuits from Vietnamese. US lawyer Constantine Kokkoris, who represents Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange, said he may sue the New Zealand government. \n"It is my intention at this time to look into the possibility of bringing a class against against the New Zealand government," he said \nDavidson said if negotiations between Kokkoris and the government broke down, the UN could be called on to find a setting for a court case. \nFrom 1961 to 1971, the US and South Vietnamese military sprayed millions of liters of toxic herbicides, mainly Agent Orange, over South Vietnam to destroy the vegetation used by communist forces for cover and food. \nHanoi says the defoliant has caused health problems for more than one million Vietnamese and continues to have devastating consequences. A study released last year found that Agent Orange was still contaminating people through their food. Dioxin, the defoliant's deadly component, can cause an increased risk of cancers, immunodeficiencies, reproductive and developmental changes, nervous system and other health problems.
‘GRAVE CONCERN’: A critic of the government died immediately following his complaints of torture at the hands of security forces, a human rights group said Students on Friday clashed with police in Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka, as anger mounted at the death of a writer and government critic in a high-security jail. At least 18 police and an unknown number of protesters were injured in the clashes, authorities and witnesses said, amid international demands for an independent investigation into the death of Mushtaq Ahmed. An Agence France-Presse correspondent witnessed police using batons and firing tear gas at students who staged a torchlight march calling for “justice” near the University of Dhaka. At least six students who allegedly attacked security forces with torches were detained, police said. More protests were planned
LEGAL ORDEAL: The heavy caseload involving 47 defendants and the vagaries of a Beijing-imposed security law made it difficult for the court to rule on bail requests Dozens of Hong Kong democracy advocates charged with subversion yesterday returned to court to complete a marathon bail hearing that was adjourned overnight when four defendants were rushed to hospital after hours of legal wrangling. Police on Sunday arrested 47 of the territory’s best-known dissidents for “conspiracy to commit subversion” in the broadest use yet of a sweeping National Security Law that Beijing imposed on the territory last year. The defendants represent a broad cross-section of Hong Kong’s opposition, from veteran former pro-democracy lawmakers to academics, lawyers, social workers and youth advocates. Hundreds of supporters gathered outside a courthouse on Monday for the
China, under growing global pressure over its treatment of Uighurs in Xinjiang, is mounting an unprecedented and aggressive campaign to push back, including explicit attacks on women who have made claims of abuse. As allegations of human rights violations in Xinjiang mount, with a growing number of Western lawmakers accusing China of genocide, Beijing is focusing on discrediting the female Uighur witnesses behind reports of abuse. Chinese officials have named women, disclosed medical data and information on their fertility, and accused some of having affairs and one of having a sexually transmitted disease. Officials said that the information was evidence of bad character,
The plane laden with vaccines had just rolled to a stop at Santiago’s airport in late January and Chilean President Sebastian Pinera was beaming. “Today is a day of joy, emotion and hope,” he said. The source of that hope: China — a country that Chile and dozens of other nations are depending on to help rescue them from the COVID-19 pandemic. China’s vaccine diplomacy campaign has been a surprising success: It has pledged about 500 million doses of its vaccine to more than 45 countries, according to a country-by-country tally by The Associated Press (AP). With just four of China’s many