NEW YORK – The family and friends of an Asian-American soldier who committed suicide after being hazed by fellow soldiers said Tuesday that the punishment the soldiers have received was only a slap on the wrist.
"Our son died, and there is no reason why he should have died," said Suzhen Chen, the mother of Pvt. Danny Chen. "These sentences do not give justice to his life; we want the system to change so the punishment would fit the crime" the tearful mother said in Chinese.
She spoke through an interpreter at a news conference in New York's Chinatown. Chen's father, Yan Dao Chen, wore his dead son's camouflage military cap.
Military officials said the 19-year-old New York-born Chen killed himself last year in Afghanistan after being harassed by other soldiers with taunts that included racial epithets.
Officials said Monday that the last of eight soldiers accused in the case is facing dismissal from the service.
Of the other soldiers, five were sentenced to prison and two received demotions. In all, four of the eight soldiers were facing dismissal.
The president of a New York organization advocating justice for Chen said all the soldiers should be dismissed.
Elizabeth OuYang said that minority members of the U.S. military "must decide whether it is worth the risk to fight for your country when your country will not protect you."
OuYang, who heads the nonprofit Organization of Chinese Americans, joined Chen's parents at the news conference.
Chen's family has been 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.