|Recruit Raheel Saddiqui|
Military Times reports,
"Lawmakers presses Marine Corps
to determine if hazing led to recruit's death"
A Michigan lawmaker has asked the Marine Corps’ top general if hazing was a factor in a recruit's death at the service’s East Coast training depot.
Rep. Debbie Dingell has been in close contact with the family of Raheel Siddiqui, 20, since he died March 18 while assigned to the 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, according to her office. Dingell represents Taylor, Michigan, where Siddiqui lived before going to boot camp.
"It is our shared responsibility to ensure there is a prompt and unbiased inquiry into the circumstances surrounding his death," Dingell wrote in an April 4 letter to Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller. No foul play is suspected in the death of Siddiqui, who fell nearly 40 feet in a barracks stairwell, said Ed Buice, a spokesman for the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.
But Dingell has asked Neller if Siddiqui was bullied while at Parris Island.
“Some are concerned that hazing may have been involved in the death of Private Siddiqui,” Dingell said in her letter. ”Has the Marine Corps received any indication that any hazing occurred in this instance? Does the Marine Corps have any policies in place to prevent and deter hazing from happening at basic training?”
Dingell also asked if the commander of the 3rd Recruit Training Battalion at Parris Island, who was fired March 31, had any interactions with Siddiqui.
|Lt. Col. Joshua Kissoon|
Lt. Col. Joshua Kissoon was relieved of command after being investigated for allegations of misconduct. Col. Paul Cucinotta, commanding officer of the Recruit Training Regiment, decided to fire Kissoon on March 17, the day before Siddiqui died.
“Why was Lt. Col. Kissoon relieved of his duties?” Dingell wrote in her letter to Neller. “Was there any indication of his not being sensitive enough to the needs of recruits?”
A spokesman for Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island said the Marine Corps Inspector General’s office's investigation into Kissoon was not related to Siddiqui.
The command inspector general at Parris Island received the investigation Feb. 23 and Siddiqui arrived at Parris Island on March 7, said Capt. Gregory Carroll, who said further information about the allegations against Kissoon would need to be requested through the Freedom of Information Act.
In her letter to Neller, Dingell asked what the time line is for NCIS to complete its investigation into Siddiqui’s death. She also asked if the Marine Corps will share all relevant records of Siddiqui’s death with his congressman and family at the appropriate time.
"Answers to these questions will give the family comfort during these difficult times and will help Congress conduct oversight of this incident," she wrote.
Neller has received Dingell's letter, said Neller's spokesman Lt. Col. Eric Dent.
"We don't discuss the details of correspondence between the Commandant and members of Congress, but the letter was received and we will make sure that the Member's questions are addressed in a timely manner," Dent said in an email to Marine Corps Times.
Food for thought: As a former Naval officer who also served 7 years prior enlisted, I witnessed some of the worst forms of discrimination while serving as a “double minority.” Even as an officer, I was sexually discriminated against and during my final tour of duty, I feared for my life during the events surrounding my courts martial conviction. I detailed my experience in my memoir Broken Silence, a Military Whistleblower’s Fight for Justice.
What I know for sure having served in our military for nearly 20 years, is that prejudice and racism doesn’t disguise itself in the US Armed forces. There’s no need to camouflage how you feel, especially if you are amongst your “like kind.”
Recently, American anti-racism activist, Tim Wise said it best, when he explained the “class system” in this country. He’s right about how certain classes of citizens will use their badge (or in this particular case, their military rank) to carry out their hatred toward people of certain ethnic and religious backgrounds, and of course gender. Meanwhile, senior military officials have allowed thousands of veterans to go free after raping women along with their fellow male soldiers, airmen, sailors and marines.
Given our heightened political times, this is an extremely sensitive matter and should not be treated with kids gloves. For example, allowing a highly decorated Lt. Colonel, Joshua Kisson, to take the fall. This will only exacerbate a much larger problem.
If the late Raheel Siddiqui was also Muslim American it worries me even more. It is no secret how certain Presidential hopefuls feel about Muslims in this country and to speak in front of a majority Veteran audience, spewing hateful rhetoric towards other Americans because of their religious and ethnic background, merely plants a seed to pass on hate to the next generation and the military provides fertile recruiting ground to root your seeds and destroy the progress of our country at its very soul; our Armed Forces.
In my view, this matter needs to be investigated by the Justice Department and should be considered a Human Rights issue which needs to be addressed in our military once and for all!!