Afghanistan Hearing for Soldier Accused in Pvt. Danny Chen’s Death

A pretrial hearing was scheduled for today in Afghanistan to determine whether a soldier suspected of involvement in Pvt. Danny Chen’s death should face charges in a military court. Chen committed suicide last year after enduring a series of attacks and racial insults from eight of his fellow soldiers, his family was told by military investigators.

The hearing will decide whether Sgt. Travis Carden, who was not charged with homicide and manslaughter as some of his comrades were, will face other charges in military court, DNAinfo reported.

The hearing will determine whether Sgt. Travis Carden, 25, will face a court martial on charges of maltreatment and assault in the Chinatown native’s apparent suicide, the military said.

The Article 32 hearing is similar to a grand jury in that both determine whether there is probable cause to believe a crime has been committed.

Chen’s death has drawn ongoing coverage in the community and ethnic press, particularly because of his close ties to Chinatown and his family’s immigrant background. Several outlets reported on a recent proposal by the City Council that urges the Defense Department to refocus its policies on anti-discrimination to heed concerns over hazing in the military.

Downtown Express reported that a hearing was scheduled earlier this month to vote on a resolution and report put forward by Councilmember Margaret Chin:

Soldiers should be better educated about acceptable and unacceptable behaviors and about the legal and administrative consequences of discrimination, according to the report. “At a minimum,” the report reads, “local training units must incorporate training on the anti-discrimination policy into the unit’s overall training, and [this training] must be conducted quarterly.”

It is crucial that the Army’s anti-hazing policies are transparent, since minorities, who are most often the victims, now comprise 35 percent of the Army’s active duty personnel, according to U.S. Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez. The number of Asian-American soldiers alone has spiked by nearly 40 percent since 2002.

In another report by DNAinfo, Chin explains her motivation:

“We need to know that our sons and daughters will not be victimized by their fellow soldiers at home or at war. We need to know that their superiors will be held accountable, and that rules regarding hazing and discrimination are enforced. This resolution is a first step.”

For a listing of past media coverage regarding Chen’s case, visit the website of the Organization of Chinese Americans, which is currently petitioning for court martials on Chen’s family’s behalf.

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