IRVINE, Calif.—On Tuesday, the student government at the University of California, Irvine (UC Irvine), unanimously passed a resolution “to Divest from the Republic of Turkey to End the Perpetuation of the Armenian Genocide.” The resolution ultimately called for UC Irvine, the UC Irvine Foundation, and the University of California to divest $72.6 million dollars worth of University of California bonds and investments in the Republic of Turkey for its crimes in, and continued denial of the Armenian Genocide.
Various students of UC Irvine, members of the Armenian Students’ Association (ASA), along with members of the greater Armenian community gathered for the hearing of the resolution and spoke about the university’s investments in the Turkish government, its compliance in genocide denial, and the need for divestment.
“As a descendant of the Armenian Genocide and a UC student, I was so angered and disappointed when I learned that the University of California, a public institution, invests over $70 million dollars in the Turkish government. These UC investment holdings in bonds directly issued in Turkish government ultimately, fund Turkish denialist propaganda and drive efforts of genocide denial,” said Carla Kekejian a third-year English and education sciences double-major at UCI. “Students’ tuition dollars- my tuition dollars- are being invested in the government that denies history and human right violations. I needed to present this resolution so that at least my student government, and my UC, was not complicit in the denial of the Armenian Genocide.”
Along with the citations of the UC’s investments in Turkey, the resolution cited the massacres of the 1915 Armenian Genocide as well as the current Republic of Turkey’s continuous genocide denial campaigns and efforts to hide its crimes against humanity. The resolution also cited how the California State Assembly Public Employment, Retirement, and Social Security (PERSS) recently voted to adopt Assembly Bill 1410 calling for divestment of the State of California’s investments in the Turkish government.
“The UC System should divest from governments who still continue to oppress and deny their atrocities and actions towards another minority,” said Ovsanna Balian, a fourth year double-major in psychology and social behavior and education sciences at UCI.“UC Irvine’s calling of divestment from the Republic of Turkey means a lot to me because I can walk on campus and graduate comfortably knowing that my university wants to divest on the Turkish government. This action of divestment has the potential of decreasing the denial and investments by governments of this genocide and any other genocides. Not only am I presenting this resolution for myself and my family, but I am doing this for all my ancestors that suffered by the hands of the Young Turks.”
The student governments of UCLA and UC Berkeley unanimously passed similar resolutions during January and February of this year. Moreover, just last month, ASUCI unanimously passed A resolution “Commemorating the Armenian Genocide and Condemning its Denial,” raising further awareness on campus about the Armenian Genocide and its need for international recognition.
“The active erasure of Armenian histories and the Armenian genocide has gone on too long. As UC students we should be represented and have agency over where our money is going. Overall, as human beings we cannot allow for the investment into oppressive governments, beyond Armenian people,” said Kristine Jermakian a third-year pharmaceutical sciences and women’s’ studies double major at UCI. The stand against genocide is a human rights issue, not only a student issue, so pushing to divest makes a clear statement of this and a statement that we stand against all unethical investments.”
“As President of the Armenian Students’ Association at UC Irvine, I am very proud of both our Armenian and non-Armenian support we received in Orange County as well as the support of ASUCI, our student government council,” said Aram Akhverdyan fourth year biological sciences major at UCI. “Just because April 24th has passed, that does not mean our campaign for recognition of the Armenian Genocide should end. There are a wide range of ways we can continue the efforts and the passing of this divestment resolution was a significant one.”
The resolution is an initiative started in part by the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) Western United States- a grassroots community organization dedicated to justice for the Armenian cause and the Armenian people. For any questions, comments or inquiries on the #DivestTurkey campaign, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.