Divest from Turkish Bonds Act Signed into Law

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Divest from Turkish Bonds Act Signed into Law

(Sacramento, CA) Governor Newsom has signed AB 1320, the Divestment from Turkish Bonds Act, into law.

“California stands on the side of justice and remembers the 1.5 million souls lost during the Armenian Genocide,” stated Governor Gavin Newsom. “Today and everyday, let us recommit ourselves to making certain that we never forget and that we always speak out against hatred and atrocities anywhere they occur. I am proud to stand with friends and sign AB 1320 into law.”

California has a long history of divesting from countries that violate human rights, such as South Africa (apartheid policy), Sudan (Darfur genocide), and Iran (international terrorism, human rights violations). Threatening to divest from Turkish bonds over their denial of the Armenian Genocide would end the continued funding of a campaign of genocide denial. This bill sends a strong message internationally that California demands justice for the murder of 1.5 million Armenians.

“California, the 5th largest economy in the world, just told Turkey to end its deceitful campaign of genocide denial,” stated Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian. “I want to thank my colleagues, Governor Newsom, and all those who have fought with me on this long path to recognizing the 1.5 million Armenian souls lost to genocide.”

AB 1320 prohibits the boards of the California Public Retirement System (CalPERS) and California State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS) 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.

The boards shall liquidate investments only upon action taken by the federal government. More specifically, CalPERS and CalSTRS must liquidate any of the investments described above within eighteen months of the passage of federal sanctions on Turkey.

This bill also requires the boards of CalPERS and CalSTRS to submit reports to the Legislature and the Governor, within a year of when the federal government issues sanctions against Turkey. The report will detail a list of investments that they have already liquidated and a list of investments that potentially can be liquidated. CalPERS, estimated that the exposure to the fund from Turkish investment vehicles ranges between $77 million up to $350 million as of December 31, 2018.

From its July analysis, CalSTRS estimates the holdings of debt securities issued by the government of Turkey is approximately $3.2 million. Global equities and currency investments subject to possible divestment have a potential combined market value of up to $8.3 million.

“I want to thank the Armenian Assembly, the Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region, Armenian Youth Federation and Armenian Student Associations throughout the UC and Cal State system and all the other college campuses for helping advocate for AB 1320,” stated Assemblymember Nazarian.

California is home to the largest Armenian-American population in the United States and one of the largest Armenian diasporas in the world. Annually, the Los Angeles Armenian diaspora organizes a march and protest on April 24th, to the Turkish Consulate to condemn Turkey’s denial of their history of human rights violations and targeted murder of the Armenian people in 1915. AB 1320 sets precedent that we will not support Turkey, as it continues to savagely violate human rights today as it did over a century ago.

Assemblymember Nazarian added: “I am not finished fighting for justice and reparations. My next fight is federal recognition of the Armenian Genocide.”

Adrin Nazarian represents the 46th Assembly District, serving the San Fernando Valley communities of Hollywood Hills, Lake Balboa, North Hills, North Hollywood, Panorama City, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Toluca Lake, Valley Glen, Universal City, Van Nuys, and Valley Village.