Committee of 100 Calls for Probe of Racially-Motivated Violence against Asian Americans in Military

Logo-lowresIn a December 22 statement calling for a thorough investigation of the suicide of Army Private Danny Chen in Afghanistan on October 3, the Committee of 100 commended “the U.S. Army for its decision to charge eight American soldiers in relation to Pvt. Chen's apparent suicide and for publicly acknowledging that Pvt. Chen was subject to bullying and hazing.”  C-100 also stressed that “the Army's investigation should probe further to determine any pattern of racially-motivated violence against Asian-American servicemen and women, as evidenced by the suicides of Pvt. Danny Chen and of Lance Corporal Harry Lew in April this year.” 

Both Chen and Lew were subjected to prolonged and harsh hazing and ethnic slurs in their units, the New York Times  reported in late October.  On December 21, the Army charged eight soldiers with manslaughter and negligent homicide in connection with Chen’s death.  Three Marines associated with Lew’s death have been court-martialed. 

The Committee’s statement was cited in “Top U.S. Officer Decries Hazing After Troop Suicides”  (AFP , December 22): “A Chinese-American group, the Committee of 100, expressed ‘grave concern’ over the incidents, and welcomed the military's vow to prosecute possible abuse.”

Danny Chen’s life and death are the subject of a January 6 feature  by Jennifer Gonnerman in New York Magazine, which includes this graphic description:

Since Danny Chen’s death, details of his story have slowly emerged, relayed by Army officials to his family. A group of his superiors allegedly tormented Chen on an almost daily basis over the course of about six weeks in Afghanistan last fall. They singled him out, their only Chinese-American soldier, and spit racial slurs at him: “gook,” “chink,” “dragon lady.” They forced him to do sprints while carrying a sandbag. They ordered him to crawl along gravel-covered ground while they flung rocks at him. And one day, when his unit was assembling a tent, he was forced to wear a green hard-hat and shout out instructions to his fellow soldiers in Chinese.

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