Mark Shapiro has written to tell us that his good friend, Len Aldis, well known campaigner for peace and justice, has died. Len’s local paper, the East London News, recorded his work for the pensioners’ movement, speaking up for a range of improvements for older people and as ‘a stalwart’ of the Tower Hamlets CND branch.
In 1949-50 and during the U.S. War era on Vietnam, Len took part in marches, meetings and demonstrations calling for an end to the war. He worked as a secretary for an association relating to Vietnam and later on set up the British-Vietnam Friendship Society in 1992 and sent a comment on the post about Britain keeping out of the Vietnam war, detailing covert assistance.
He visited the country frequently, taking gifts of money and solidarity to all the people who had suffered in the war and in particular to those who continued to suffer the effects of US bombing with Agent Orange. The Vietnamese people responded warmly to his unstinting support and he received a series of honours in recognition of his work.
The local paper adds: “It was Len who exposed, more than anyone else, how lasting the effects of this chemical warfare were, lasting down four or five generations”. He highlighted the facts that over three million Vietnamese and thousands of American servicemen and women, and their children, continue to suffer from the serious illnesses and disabilities caused by Agent Orange and that their petition against the manufacturers of Agent Orange headed by Monsanto and Dow Chemicals, seeking Justice, was denied by the US Supreme Court on 2nd March 2009.
His disgust at the US use of chemical weapons in the Vietnam war led to Len spearheading the campaign against Dow Chemical’s sponsorship of the 2012 Olympics, which took place just a stone’s throw from Len’s flat. Dow had played a large role in the production of Agent Orange but had also worked on how to make napalm more deadly.
In 2014 this site carried news of recognition for ‘our’ Len Aldis as oil paintings by Vietnamese artists, featuring people throughout the world who supported Viet Nam during its wars and development process, were displayed in Ha Noi. His description:
“Len Aldis: a British activist who joined mass demonstrations to protest the US invasion in the south of Viet Nam. In 1992, he established the UK-Viet Nam Friendship Association in the UK and conducted charitable activities in Viet Nam”.
His nephew writes: “I have, over the last few days, received many tributes and emails from all corners of the globe, so we thought a a memorial website where we can share our fondest memories and add photos of Len would provide his many friends from around the world an opportunity to pay their respects. You can find the site here http://len.aldis.muchloved.com ”. The latest picture:
As the East London News ends: “The people of Vietnam and of East London have lost a fearless and principled defender of their rights and a giant campaigner for justice”.