SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – California is getting closer to banning CalSTRS and CalPERS from investing millions of dollars with the Turkish government.

Assembly Bill 1597 would require the boards of both the Public Employees’ Retirement System and State Teachers’ Retirement System to liquidate existing investments in Turkey within 6 months of the passage of a federal law imposing sanctions on Turkey. Currently, both public funds directly invest in the government of Turkey.

  • CalPERS: $185,000,000 in bonds directly issued by the Republic of Turkey
  • CalSTRS: Several hundred million dollars in bonds issued by the Republic of Turkey

California is home to the largest Armenian-American population in the United States and many of those living here are direct descendants of survivors of the Armenian Genocide which took place from 1915-1923. Approximately 1.5 million Armenians were killed and thousands more deported.

The Republic of Turkey has refused to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide, and hasn’t honored “its obligations under international treaties and human rights laws, end all forms of religious discrimination and persecution, and return Christian church properties to their rightful owners.” It’s also “engaged and continues to engage in an ongoing campaign of genocide denial and historical revisionism by refusing to acknowledge its responsibility for the Armenian Genocide, refusing to compensate its victims, and actively pursuing a well-funded political lobbying campaign throughout the United States, including in California, to rewrite history and defeat legislation recognizing the Armenian Genocide.

California has previously divested from South Africa (apartheid policy), Sudan (Darfur genocide), and Iran (international terrorism, human rights violations.)

AB 1597 was first proposed in February of 2017. It passed the Assembly in June of 2017 before being amended by the author, Adrin Nazarian (D- San Fernando Valley). It will be debated by the Senate Public Employment and Retirement Committee on Monday.

Read the full bill HERE.

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