SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – CalSTRS and CalPERS can continue to invest millions of dollars with the Turkish government despite that country’s refusal to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide.

Governor Jerry Brown vetoed Assembly Bill 1597 over the weekend, which would have required both retirement systems to liquidate existing investments in Turkey within 6 months of the passage of a federal law imposing sanctions on Turkey.

The Governor wrote in his veto message:

“I am returning Assembly Bill 1597 without my signature. This bill, which only goes into effect if the Federal Government imposes sanctions on Turkey, would require our pension funds to sell all bonds or investment vehicles issued by the Turkish government. The horror of the Armenian Genocide is something no Californian should ever forget. To that end, our school curriculum requires the study of the Armenian Genocide and this year I proclaimed April 24, 2018, as “Day of Remembrance of the Armenian Genocide”. In addition, the state extended the statutory deadline for genocide victims or their heirs to seek legal redress. While this subject is profoundly important, the bill as written is mostly symbolic. Moreover, I am reluctant to force yet another disinvestment measure on our already stressed pension systems.”

Currently, both the Public Employees’ Retirement System and State Teachers’ Retirement System 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.

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

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