As an American of Turkic descent I am outraged by California Assembly Bill 1410 sponsored by assemblymembers Nazarian, Achadjian, and Wilk.

Using personal ethnic agenda, AB1410 sponsors seek to prohibit investing California public employee retirement funds in any business with operations in Turkey. Such a racially driven business divestment initiative is based on Turkey’s rejection of the legally unfounded and widely debated allegation of Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire.

The purported Ottoman intent to exterminate Armenians during World War I — a necessary precondition to describe any act of genocide, such as the Holocaust, Srebrenica, Rwanda — has never been established in any court. Most American and Western scholars concur that such intent never existed. The 1915 Ottoman decision to resettle the Armenians away from the WWI frontline was a measure in response to Armenian armed revolt amid the Russian invasion. Within a year prior to April 1915, over half a million Turks, Kurds, Jews, Azerbaijanis, and others perished at the hands of Armenian nationalists seeking to carve out their own state. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians also suffered in this conflict. But claiming that they were the only victims subjected to genocide is unethical and defeats the very purpose of AB 1410.

Turkey — a nation of 78 million — is the world’s 17th largest economy. It has been a U.S. and NATO ally since the 1950s; Turkey’s partnership through the Cold War and amid the ongoing conflicts in Syria and Iraq has been indispensable. In contrast, neighboring Armenia, whose interests AB1410 sponsors advance, hosts the only Russian military base in Western Asia and has been a major regional ally of Iran.

AB1410 is an affront to the U.S. Constitution, judicial system, foreign policy, and American values. It is an unethical attempt to misuse elected office and to deceive taxpayers with personal, racial agenda. Vote “no” on AB1410.


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