Armenian Students Call for Genocide Recognition, Divestment From Turkey

Armenian Students Call for Genocide Recognition, Divestment From Turkey

The Armenian Students Association (ASA) at UCLA is seeking to draft a resolution which would require the University of California Board of Regents to divest from the Republic of Turkey.

The resolution, which will be presented to the Undergraduates Student Association Council (USAC) on Tuesday and voted upon on January 6, also seeks to enforce a 2005 resolution–which was passed by the USAC–that calls for the boycott of all Turkish products in school’s stores, according to UCLA’s student-run newspaper, the Daily Bruin.

The UC Retirement Plan and General Endowment Pool reportedly holds over $65 million of investments in Turkish bonds. That, in turn, indicates that it does not recognize the tragedy as an act of genocide since the UC Regents does not divest from any holdings unless a foreign regime is recognized as committing said acts by the United States government. 

The U.S. does not formally recognize the Armenian genocide. Turkey’s government does not recognize the Armenian genocide, either.

The ASA resolution is being drafted to coincide with the centennial anniversary of the start of the tragedy known as the Armenian Genocide (“Medz Yeghern” to native speakers)April 24, 2015, will mark 100 years since the start of the systemic executions (between 1915-1917) which claimed approximately 1.5 million Armenian lives at the hands of Turkey’s Ottoman Empire. Some suggest the genocide did not end until 1923; the year the Ottoman Empire disintegrated.

Morris Sarafian, a third-year political science student and a member of the ASA, said he feels the Armenian genocide provided a blueprint for persecutors of all subsequent genocides, including the Holocaust, the Bruin notes.

This past September, ISIS (Islamic State) terrorists destroyed an Armenian church in Syria that served as a memorial to the martyrs of the Armenian Genocide of 1915. Turkey, this past October, very begrudgingly caved to U.S. pressure to allow Kurdish peshmerga fighters cross over its territory from Iraq into Syria to help with the battle against ISIS.

In 2012, the Bruin notes, the USAC passed a resolution recognizing the Armenian genocide and condemning its denial. The ASA hopes to take this resolution to the next level of recognition by directing action at Turkey itself. 

The already volatile United States-Turkey relationship could suffer a tremendous blow should formal recognition pass in the U.S. government. Previous attempts to pass resolutions in the House have resulted in threats from Turkish leaders. 

The relationship is at a critical juncture considering Turkey’s strategic placement in the region as the deadly battle against Islamic State (ISIS) militants bores on.

Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz