November 24, 2020

Eight US soldiers charged in death of bullied comrade

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NEW YORK (AP) — Even before the Army sent him to Afghanistan, supporters say, Pvt. Daniel Chen was fighting a personal war.

Fellow soldiers at a base in Georgia teased him about his Chinese name, crying out “Chen!” in an exaggerated Asian accent. They called him “Jackie Chen,” a reference to the Hollywood action star Jackie Chan. People would ask him repeatedly if he was Chinese, even though he was a native New Yorker.

At one point Chen (pictured) wrote in his diary that he was running out of jokes to respond with.

Then he was sent overseas, and the hazing began: Soldiers dragged him across a floor, pelted him with stones and forced him to hold liquid in his mouth while hanging upside down, according to diary entries and other accounts cited by a community activist.

On Oct. 3, the 19-year-old Chen was found dead in a guardhouse in Afghanistan with what the Army said was apparently a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

On Wednesday, the Army announced charges against eight soldiers in his death, saying Chen was a victim of illegal hazing. Five of those accused were charged with involuntary manslaughter and negligent homicide. The alleged offenses also included maltreatment, assault and threats.

The military would not discuss the exact circumstances surrounding Chen’s death.

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