SACRAMENTO – The California State Senate passed the Turkish Divestment Bill, AB 1320, on September 11, with 33 out of 40 State Senators voting in favor and the remaining 7 abstaining.

California has a long history of divesting from countries that violate human rights, South Africa (apartheid policy), Sudan (Darfur genocide), and Iran (international terrorism, human rights violations). A divestment from Turkish bonds over Turkey’s denial of the Armenian Genocide, the continued funding of a campaign of genocide denial, and the recent erosion of democratic principles would send a clear message internationally that California, the fifth largest economy in the world, demands justice for 1.5 million Armenians killed.

Formally known as the “Public employee retirement systems: prohibited investments: Turkey” bill, this legislation was introduced and principally authored by California State Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian (D-46). The bill would prohibit California’s public employment retirement agencies – CalPERS and CalSTRS – from making new investments or renewing existing investments in Turkish government-issued and controlled debt securities and bonds, pending U.S. government sanctions on Turkey for the latter’s state-sponsored denial of the Armenian Genocide.

In addition to Assemblymember Nazarian, AB 1320 was co-introduced by State Assemblymembers Laura Friedman (D-43) and Jesse Gabriel (D-45), principally co-authored by State Senator Anthony Portantino (D-25), and co-authored by State Senator Scott Wilk (R-21) and State Assemblymembers Phillip Chen (R-55), Luz Rivas (D-39), and Chris Holden (D-41).

Prior to this vote, AB 1320 was approved on August 30 by the CA State Senate Appropriations Committee, on July 2 by the CA State Senate Judiciary Committee, and on June 26 by the CA State Senate Labor, Public Employment and Retirement (LPER) Committee.

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