A year after a Chinese-American soldier commits suicide, questions remain as to whether or not the perpetrators’ punishments fit the crime.
Last year Pvt. Danny Chen committed suicide while serving in Afghanistan. It wasn’t being away from his family or being surrounded by the violence of war that drove him to take his own life though. In fact, it was the vicious hazing from his fellow soldiers that caused him to commit suicide. The Huffington Post reports that Pvt. Chen’s family was told by investigators that,
Soldiers taunted him with racial epithets and forced him to crawl on the ground while they threw rocks at him. Family members and their supporters said he was abused daily during his six-week tour in Afghanistan. Fellow soldiers also forced him to wear a green helmet and shout orders in Chinese to a battalion that had no other Chinese-American soldiers.
Eight of Chen’s fellow soldiers were accused in connection to the suicide, and Military Officials released a statement Monday stating that the last of the eight accused is “facing dismissal” from the service. The report from Huffington Post goes on to say,
Of the other soldiers, five were sentenced to prison and two received demotions. In all, four of the eight soldiers were facing dismissal.
However, friends and family of the Asian-American soldier say that the punishment is equal to nothing more than a slap on the wrist for the eight men they hold responsible for Chen’s life. After hearing the announcement made by Military Officials Chen’s mother spoke through an interpreter at a press conference in New York’s Chinatown. She said,
Our son died, and there is no reason why he should have died. These sentences do not give justice to his life; we want the system to change so the punishment would fit the crime.
Private Chen is another name on a growing list of men and boys who have been harassed, hazed, bullied, and basically made to feel like they are not worthy to be called male. How many more lives must be lost before we begin to understand that this societal enforcement of masculinity is cruel and often deadly, and not attached to anything real. If a soldier serving in Afghanistan is not traditionally masculine enough, then I don’t know who is.
Picture: Frank Fukuchi/Flickr