Merle Ratner passed away in a traffic accident in New York on February 5 evening.

Merle Evelyn Ratner was born to a Jewish-American family in New York City in 1956. At the age of 13, she actively took part in the anti-war movement and showed her support for the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam. At that time, the public in the U.S. and the world were impressed by a small girl climbing the Statue of Liberty and waving the red flag with a yellow star and slogans calling for an end to the wrongful war.

Anti-war activist Merle Ratner in an interview granted to Vietnam News Agency on February 2, 2024

She used to say that images of the destructive war in Vietnam and the stories about napalm bombs and toxic chemicals killing a large number of people had urged her to take to the streets to do something meaningful to help Vietnam.

Inspired by the sympathies and love for the S-shaped country, Ratner sought to read documents and writings about President Ho Chi Minh, General Vo Nguyen Giap, and the just struggle of the Vietnamese people. The more she learned about Vietnam, the more strongly she supported the fight for independence, freedom, and national reunification of its people.

To this left-wing activist, the day of April 30, 1975 was not only the day of complete victory for Vietnam but also a happy day of all progressive and peace-loving people around the world.

After 1975, with her stronger love for Vietnam, Ratner campaigned for the normalization of the Vietnam - U.S. relations and supported many international activities of Vietnam. During 1976 - 1979, she and her husband, Prof. Ngo Thanh Nhan, promoted the establishment of an association of patriotic overseas Vietnamese in the U.S. to call on the U.S. Government to normalize the relations with and lift the embargo on Vietnam.

She used to visit the Southeast Asian country for many times and work with mass organizations, the Vietnam Fatherland Front, and the Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics.

Ratner was a co-founder and coordinator of the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief & Responsibility Campaign (VAORRC) in the New York region. She worked tirelessly to appeal to organizations and individuals to support Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange and to the U.S. Government to compensate the victims. Over the past years, she collected tens of millions of signatures via the internet to help Agent Orange victims of Vietnam to launch lawsuits.

Ratner was awarded the "For the Development of Vietnamese Women" insignia in 2010 and the “For Vietnamese Victims of Agent Orange” insignia in 2013 in recognition of her enormous contribution.

Jonathan Moore, a lawyer and a board member of the VAORRC, regarded Ratner as a steadfast friend, tirelessly advocating for the rights of AO victims in Vietnam throughout her life. He said she will be remembered by those fighting for dignity and social justice.

Le Thanh Chung, a Vietnamese expatriate in New York, assessed the activist as being unwaveringly faithful to communist ideals and believing in socialism as the true path to happiness for the people. Notably, Ratner devoted her pure and loyal love to Vietnam, Chung said.

In a recent interview with Vietnam News Agency correspondents in New York on February 1 on the occasion of the 94th founding anniversary of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV), Ratner once again emphasized the leadership role of the CPV as the decisive factor in all of the nation’s achievements and victories. She affirmed that the CPV has steadfastly pursued the path of socialism and advocated for socialist values worldwide, with Vietnam certain to succeed on the chosen path.

Amid the constant changes in the world, increasing right-wing nationalism, and increasingly fierce competition among major powers, she believed that Vietnam's foreign policy of "Four Nos" and "bamboo diplomacy" approach – which means flexible in practice yet unwavering in principles – demonstrate the rightness and help Vietnam ensure peace, independence and sovereignty, and achieve many meaningful accomplishments.

Source: VNA