WASHINGTON — The JACL issued the following statement this week regarding Pvt. Danny Chen, a 19-year-old from New York who committed suicide in Afghanistan last October after being subjected to racial harassment by his fellow soldiers, eight of whom now face charges ranging from dereliction of duty to involuntary manslaughter:
“The Japanese American Citizens League, the nation’s oldest and largest Asian American civil rights organization, deplores the mistreatment and abuse directed at Pvt. Danny Chen by his superiors and fellow soldiers in the United States Army.
“Pvt. Chen’s death is a tragedy in every respect. The incident demonstrates a tragic disregard for the values of respect and decency. It is a tragedy for his immigrant parents who must now cope with the sorrow of losing their only son. It is a tragedy for the United States Army, an institution that draws great pride in serving as a model of tolerance and diversity.
“Because of this tragedy, we must now turn to the manner in which the United States Army applies justice in investigating this case and in holding to account those who were responsible for Pvt. Chen’s tragic death. Moreover, the United States Army must address its policies and practices regarding all forms of intolerance, as well as the attitudes within its own institution that fostered and led to the racially abusive environment that surrounded Pvt. Chen.
“The tragedy of Pvt. Danny Chen applies to all of us as a reminder that racial slights and insults must never be tolerated because they form the foundation for more serious acts of hatred and abuse. The JACL will continue to work with OCA (Organization of Chinese Americans) and other organizations to monitor the actions by the United States Army in seeking justice for this deplorable incident. “