A national Asian-American civil rights group is asking for a meeting with the secretary of the army for answers in the death of a New York City soldier in Afghanistan earlier this month.
Pvt. Danny Chen, 19, was found dead Oct. 3 with a gunshot wound below his chin. His body was discovered in the living quarters of a forward operating base in the Kandahar province of Afghanistan.
His parents believe he was bullied because of his race, though they still don't know how or if it played a role in his death.
Elizabeth OuYang, the New York branch president of OCA, a national civil rights organization serving Asian Pacific Americans, said Chen's death has left the community "devastated, shocked and horrified."
OuYang penned a letter to Secretary of the Army John McHugh Monday asking him to meet with local Chinese-Americans in New York City to address concerns over racial bullying in the Army.
Some 3,000 Asian Americans were recruited to serve in the U.S. military in 2009 alone, according to OuYang, and "they need to know what affirmative steps the army is taking to integrate, support, and protect its soldiers, particularly minorities who are living and training at these bases," OuYang wrote.
Army officials told Chen's parents last week they've launched a criminal investigation into Chen's death, as well as the circumstances leading up to his death.
OuYang told NBC New York that OCA-NY wants a timeline on the investigation, an explanation of how the investigation will be conducted and how its findings will be announced to the public.
She said they also wanted to know if there was a hazing culture within the Army and what was being done to fight it.
Chen's parents told NBC New York last week he'd casually refer to conflicts he had with his comrades, but dismissed them as "nothing to worry about."
"The Army told me he died from a gunshot that went from his chin through the back of his head. They said this could be a murder or a suicide," said his father, Yan Tao Chen. "But he absolutely did not take his own life. He would never have done that. Danny was happy to be in the military and was looking forward to coming home."