DAVIS, Calif. — On Thursday, May 7th, the student government at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis), with a vote of 2 abstains and 10 yes’, passed “A Resolution to Divest from the Republic of Turkey to End the Perpetuation of the Armenian Genocide”. The resolution ultimately called for UC Davis and the University of California to divest $72.6 million dollars worth of University of California bonds and investments in the Republic of Turkey for its crimes in, and continued denial of the Armenian Genocide.
Various students of UC Davis, members of the Armenian Students’ Association (ASA), along with members of the greater Armenian community gathered for the hearing of the resolution and spoke about the university’s investments in the Turkish government, its compliance in genocide denial, and the need for divestment.
“One important aspect of life is memory. Human’s having the ability to carry their memories and pass them through generations is essential for history, science, and for life in general. Some memories carry positive and happy thoughts, while others carry a heavy burden. In the memories of many Armenians, the burden is still being carried,” said Vahe Sargsyan, a third-year Political Science major, minoring in human rights. “Feelings of anger and disappointment arose within me when I found out the University of California invests over $70 million dollars in the Turkish government. As it seems, UC campuses are implicitly involved in Turkey’s systematic denial campaign of the Armenian Genocide. I am glad to see the UC Davis student government, along with other UC student governments, taking on the initiative to divest from a systematic genocide denying country such as Turkey.”
Along with the citations of the UC’s investments in Turkey, the resolution cited the massacres of the 1915 Armenian Genocide as well as the current Republic of Turkey’s continuous genocide denial campaigns and efforts to hide its crimes against humanity. The resolution also cited how the California State Assembly Public Employment, Retirement, and Social Security (PERSS) recently voted to adopt Assembly Bill 1410 calling for divestment of the State of California’s investments in the Turkish government.
“The resolution I introduced has had many supporters along the way, including other Senators, community leaders and students. However, Turkish Divestment faced a unique challenge here at Davis,” said Sevan Nahabedian, a first year Biochemistry and Molecular Biology major, and also a member of the ASUCD Senate. “For the past four years the ASUCD Senate has seen three versions of a resolution urging the Regents to divest from companies that aid in Israel’s occupation of Palestine. Each time the topic has been polarizing and pitted one side of the Senate Table against the other. That resolution (most recently SR #9) passed earlier this year, but was overruled by the ASUCD Court for being unconstitutional. Those resolutions and incidents that followed caused a lot of pain to both the Jewish and the Palestinian communities on campus. When I introduced my resolution people were hesitant and feared it would be as politically divisive. We spent hours debating the language in the resolution making sure it was constitutional. A lot of effort has gone into passing this resolution and I am very proud to see UC Davis take a stand against Armenian Genocide denial.”
The student governments of UCLA, UC Berkeley and UC Irvine unanimously passed similar resolutions during January, February and May of this year. Moreover, just last month, ASUCI unanimously passed A resolution “Commemorating the Armenian Genocide and Condemning its Denial,” raising further awareness on campus about the Armenian Genocide and its need for international recognition.
“Following three successful divestment resolutions throughout the UC system, there was mounting pressure for UC Davis to follow suit and I am extremely proud to be a part of an institution that rightfully denounced Armenian Genocide denial,” said Tamar Tatoian, a third year Biological Sciences major and the UC Davis ASA President. “It is so important for our students to be educated about these human rights issues, and be knowledgeable about where their money is going and how that may be fueling denial campaigns. This issue is one that Armenian students and our allies have been plagued with our whole lives, and it is immensely important to me that we see progress within our lifetimes, and I am grateful to have been able to actively contribute to that progress through the divestment process.”
The resolution is an initiative started in part by the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) Western United States- a grassroots community organization dedicated to justice for the Armenian cause and the Armenian people. For any questions, comments or inquiries on the #DivestTurkey campaign, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.