By Tom L. Hayashi
OCA Executive Director
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Feb. 22, 2012) — The Organization of Chinese Americans, a national organization dedicated to advancing the political, social, and economic well-being of Asian Pacific Americans (APAs), calls for a unified effort to fight harassment and hazing of Asian Pacific Americans in the military.
I would like to convey my gratitude to individuals and organizations that have expressed their concerns over harassment and mistreatment of APAs in the military during the last several months. We are overwhelmed with the outpouring of support from all over the country in terms of our advocacy efforts.
Among numerous e-mails, calls, and personal discussions of encouragement, we have also received serious concerns about the tone of rhetoric that has emerged from some in the community, understandably borne out of disappointment and frustration. Some of these messages have been inaccurate, inflammatory, and counter-productive. They fracture our community and undermine our efforts to change military culture.
As a national organization with over 80 chapters and affiliates, OCA has engaged in discussions both internal and external with APA community leaders, organizations, and allies to develop a comprehensive advocacy plan consisting of two mutually inclusive tracks:
1. To closely monitor the cases that are being tried involving Private Danny Chen and Lance Corporal Harry Lew to ensure that both the victims and their families receive justice, and that those parties responsible for contributing to their tragic, unnecessary deaths are duly charged, tried, and sentenced based upon the merits of the evidence against them.
2. To continue to pursue systemic reforms within the Department of Defense to immediately implement measures that will ensure that there is zero tolerance for harassment among our armed forces so that no other families are forced to face what the Lew and Chen families have endured.
We call for stronger leadership in the Department of Defense to stand up against injustice and indiscipline, ensure greater accountability, and implement significant policy changes within the military to address prejudice, maltreatment, and hazing. We must challenge the military to do better, and we will continue down both tracks until we meet our goals.
The good news is that our community is not being ignored. We would like to thank the grassroots efforts by organizations, including one of our own chapters, OCA-NY, which is leading the charge, and elected officials like Congresswoman Judy Chu, Congressman Mike Honda, and Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC). Working together towards these goals, community members, community organizations, elected officials and the greater public will be better positioned to make an impact and push through lasting change. By exercising patience in equal measure with initiative, OCA, along with our national and regional colleagues, are committed to advancing discussions involving a broad based collaboration to develop more specific, informed, and priority driven strategies.
This statement is not a fundraising appeal, rather, an invitation to join the community of advocates—advocates like yourself who wish to continue to be informed, make your opinions be known and be part of our effort for justice and the elimination of hazing. Please sign our on-line petition to endorse the two tracks we are pursuing to advance our efforts to bring justice and permanent change at: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/zerotoleranceharassment/