GLENDALE—The Armenian Youth Federation – Western United States and All Armenian Students Association welcome the signing of AB1320 by California Governor Gavin Newsom on October 3.
The bill, entitled “Divestment from Turkish Bonds Act,” prevents the boards of the California Public Retirement System and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System from making additional or new investments, or renewing existing investments issued or owned by the government of Turkey after federal sanctions are imposed on Turkey. Moreover, CalPERS and CalSTRS must liquidate any of the investments described above within eighteen months of the passage of federal sanctions on Turkey.
Total investments in the Republic of Turkey are upwards of $350 million dollars as of the beginning of the 2019 calendar year.
These victories, from the California legislature to the governor’s desk, could not have been possible if not for the Divest Turkey initiative spearheaded by the Armenian Youth Federation – Western United States in collaboration with the All Armenian Students Association across University of California campuses.
Since the Divest Turkey campaign’s inception in December 2015, all 9 UC schools, including Berkeley, Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, Merced, Riverside, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz have voted overwhelmingly to divest, without a single “no” vote cast. Finally, the University of California’s Student Association voted in favor of the Divest Turkey campaign, definitively affirming the will of a combined 250,000 students across the University of California, one of the largest university systems in the world.
Since then, members of the AYF-WUS and All-ASA have continued the campaign through various educational initiatives, held meetings with community partners, and supported legislative efforts. As a result, AYF-WUS and All-ASA members appeared in front of the California State Senate Select Committee on California, Armenia and Artsakh Mutual Trade, Art and Cultural Exchange, presenting the campaign. Most recently, DivestTurkey campaign organizers were invited to testify at the UC Regents Investment Subcommittee hearing on May 22, 2018.
The Armenian Youth Federation – Western United States and All-Armenian Student Association are working steadfastly to continue building on this momentum, and call on the UC Regents to listen to students across the University of California system, and make both the sensible financial and moral choice of ceasing investments in the Republic of Turkey.
Robert Grigoryan, chairperson of the All Armenian Students Association stated, “This movement is unprecedented in both student, community, and legislative support. Over the years, the State of California has made its position on the Armenian Genocide and the fight for justice clear. However, signing AB 1320 into law has shown the state’s willingness to go a step further in rethinking its investment strategy in the name of justice and accountability. This should inspire universities and states across the nation to do the same; to use economic means and incentives to hold Turkey accountable for its crimes.”
Arev Hovsepian, AYF-WUS and Divest Turkey Task Force member, added, “Turkey should not have the opportunity to use our tuition dollars and pension fund investments to fund its ongoing denialist campaign. Currently, we are working with the University of California in order to ensure that the will of students, faculty, and representatives is being actualized, in accordance with UC values and fiscally responsible policy decisions. I am proud to be a former member of the Armenian Students Association and a current member of the AYF-WUS, which continues to focus on empowering students and youth to assert their voices on their university campuses across the nation.”
The All-Armenian Student Association works to unite various Armenian-American college student organizations and serve the greater Armenian-American community through cultural, social, educational, and activist programming. As the largest confederation of ASAs in the nation, All-ASA is dedicated to collaboration among its constituent organizations, leadership development of its members, and community service.
Founded in 1933, the Armenian Youth Federation is the largest and the most influential Armenian-American youth organization in the United States, working to advance the social, political, educational and cultural awareness among Armenian-American youth.