US military officials have charged eight US soldiers deployed in Afghanistan in connection with the death of Pvt. Danny Chen, who apparently committed suicide in a guard tower in October, the Washington Post reported.
According to a statement issued by NATO command in southern Afghanistan, Chen, 19, died from an "apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound" at a small combat outpost in Kandahar Province.
The eight soldiers are facing charges ranging from negligent homicide and assault to making false statements in Chen's death, DNA info reported.
Military officials had also informed Chen's parents that he had been beaten for failing to turn off the hot water at his base prior to his death.
In October, following his death, The New York Times reported that Chen had been teased by other recruits because of his race.
According to letters that Chen sent his family earlier this year:
"'Feb. 27, 2011: Since I am the only Chinese person here, everyone knows me by Chen,'" read Banny Chen, a cousin of Danny Chen. "'They ask if I'm from China a few times a day... They also call out my name Chen in a goat-like voice sometimes for no reason.”
Chen's death has mobilized local politicians and advocacy organizations to press for a fully transparent investigation.
"It is an outrage that Danny Chen, while we were fighting two wars, did not die from enemy fire but rather died at the hands of his fellow officers and superiors. An Asian American life, like any other life, is not cheap. Our lives are not dispensable," said Elizabeth OuYang, the president of the Organization for Chinese Americans.
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