California Senate Passes Turkey Divestment Bill

California Senate has passed Turkey Divestment Bill with a vote of 35-0, the Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region (ANCA-WR) reports.

Senate Bill 457 was introduced by Senator Anthony Portantino and Senator Scott Wilk. It requires the Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS) and the State Teachers’ Retirement System (STRS) Boards of Administration to allow school districts and cities to opt out of investment vehicles issued or owned by the Republic of Turkey.

“Many public employees of Glendale who are members of CalSTRS and CalPERS are descendants of Armenian Genocide survivors and most of them had to relive the intergenerational trauma during the recent Artsakh war, in which Turkey was heavily involved,” stated Senator Portantino, when introducing the bill.

“SB 457 will ensure that their funds will not be invested in the same country that continues to be a threat to their families in Armenia. This is an opportunity to create a pragmatic approach to divestment and send a strong message to Turkey,” he added.

The State of California has a long history of divesting from countries that violate human rights. In 1986, Governor George Deukmejian condemned South Africa’s apartheid policy by signing California’s divestiture law, aimed at pressuring the government to end its system of racial segregation. In 2008, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a Sudan divestment bill due to the ongoing genocide in the Darfur. And in 2017, the University of California system successfully divested from Turkey.