Turkish Divestment Bill adopted by California State legislature

Today, the California State Assembly adopted AB 1597, the Divestment from Turkish Bonds Act, sending the bill to the Governor’s desk. The State Assembly action follows passage of the legislation by the California State Senate on August 29 by a vote of 36-0 with 4 abstentions, reported the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly).

“I am humbled and grateful for my colleagues in the Legislature for joining with me to fight for justice for the 1.5 million Armenian souls who perished in the (Armenian) Genocide,” stated California State Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian (D-46), the author of the bill.

“The Armenian Assembly salutes California State Assemblymember Nazarian for his foresight in introducing this pivotal piece of legislation, and for his leadership throughout the past two years in shepherding the bill in both legislative chambers. We also thank California State Senators and AB 1597 co-authors, Scott Wilk (R-21) and Anthony Portantino (D-25), for their advocacy of this bill throughout the Senate committee process and on the State Senate floor,” stated Armenian Assembly Western Region Director Mihran Toumajan.

Authored by Assemblymember Nazarian, AB 1597 requires the California Public Employee Retirement System (CalPERS) and California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) to liquidate all investments issued, owned, controlled, or managed by the government of Turkey, and, as amended by the State Senate, “upon passage of a federal law imposing sanctions on Turkey for failure to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide.” According to current data, CalPERS has investment holdings in bonds directly issued by the Republic of Turkey in excess of $700 million, while CalSTRS has similar holdings in Turkish government-issued bonds amounting to approximately $70 million.

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