In the News: SEA Cinemas, Agent Orange and Fishing in Oil

Scholars and film buffs will be descending on Saigon in a few days for the 6th Annual Southeast Asian Cinemas Conference, July 1-4. It will be at the Golden Hotel at 140 Ly Tu Trong in District 1. The conference rotates among the various Southeast Asian countries, having formerly been in Manila and Bangkok. It used to take place every 18 months, but that will change to every two years starting with Saigon ơi, Saigon ơi, Saigon. ơi. For program details, check out: http://seaconference.wordpress.com/.

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In return for being the most bombed out and environmentally destroyed country in the world, Vietnam will get $30 million each year for 10 years. Walter Isaacson, co-chair of the U.S.-Vietnam Dialogue Group on Agent Orange/Dioxin that released the report, calls the legacy of the Agent Orange destruction “a major irritant in this important relationship [between the U.S. and Vietnam].” It must have felt irritating as it burned the skin off thousands of people’s bodies during the war. He estimates it will cost the U.S. government far less than it will for British Petroleum to clean up the current, on-going oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. For more, go here.

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Speaking of disaster, Vietnamese and Cambodian Americans are experiencing another catastrophic upheaval in their daily life with the massive BP oil spill preventing fishermen in the New Orleans and surrounding areas from fishing. This comes on the heels of the displacement caused by Hurricane Katrina five years ago.

According to an article published by truthout.org: “About one-third of the commercial fishing vessels in Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi are owned by the Southeast Asian community,” says Kailin Truong, chair of the Biloxi-based organization Asian Americans for Change. “Eighty-percent of our families and about one in five Vietnamese work in seafood.” See the full article.

Leo S. Ching’s film A Village Called Versailles, which came out last year, presents an amazing group of Vietnamese American community activists, young and old, and their fight to rebuild their community after Katrina.

–Chuong-Dai Vo

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