An Ethical Divestment

A.S. Council unanimously voted to pass a resolution last Wednesday recommending that the University of California Office of the President sell its bonds and investments from the national bank of the Republic of Turkey for its continued refusal to acknowledge the horror of the 1915 Armenian genocide, a terrible act of racial cleansing that led to the death of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians. This negligence continues even after widespread intellectual and international agreement about the facts of the events, according to the New York Times. Turkey’s refusal to even acknowledge these crimes is a blatant attempt at whitewashing a dark historical period, and the Editorial Board applauds A.S. Council for proposing to divest more than $74 million of our student fees and sending a strong message that we will not support a country which refuses to acknowledge a history of racial bigotry.

The Armenian Genocide began almost 101 years ago on April 24, 1915, when Ottoman officials forcefully deported or murdered Armenian intellectuals from the capital of Constantinople. Ottoman officials then began systematically eliminating Armenian citizens via death marches, concentration camps or by burning them alive. These events are recognized by the the vast majority of international organizations, including the International Association of Genocide Scholars and the Council of Europe, yet are officially denied by the Turkish government according to the BBC. If Turkey were to admit the reality of such a brutal ethnic cleansing, it would also have to admit how the killers went unpunished. It would also have to admit its current discriminatory practices, much of them aimed at Armenians and Kurdish communities which continue to face Turkish bombings, as reported by the BBC. Turkey has also recently jailed journalists, shut down newspapers and cracked down on dissent in the name of “public safety,” according to CNN. In the context of such blatant restriction on free speech, A.S. Council’s decision is logical and extremely relevant given these human rights abuses.

Furthermore, there is substantial evidence to suggest that removing our student fee money from a country produces meaningful and positive change. Under the South African Apartheid, millions of black Africans were restricted from voting, attending school or participating in society. The South African government also encouraged extreme police beatings, imprisonments and murders in the name of racial segregation.

UC Berkeley students led the charge in helping remove millions of dollars from South Africa’s banks and bonds, setting an example that the rest of the UC system eventually followed. This divestment coupled with an extremely effective boycott damaged the South African economy and shined an international spotlight under the cruel racist practices of Apartheid. Similarly, Turkey should face international and economic pressure for its racist refusal to admit its wrongdoings. By withdrawing our money from the bonds of the Republic of Turkey, UCSD — and the other six UC campuses — will send a message of unity with displaced and discriminated Armenians who continue to live in the shadow of the eradication of an entire generation.

The Editorial Board strongly believes in the freedom of cultural liberty, the belief that all cultures and societies deserve the right to function free of oppression and threat of eradication. This belief is critical to our role as journalists as we shed light on issues that marginalize communities, many of which have historically been subjugated to extreme disenfranchisement, death and systematic eradications of their ways of life. We believe that the struggle against discrimination is universal and takes many different forms, some of which initially seem unrelated to the persecution of a group of individuals. In this case, the proposal to divest the UCSD hedge fund from Turkey will not directly force Turkey to acknowledge the crimes of the past, nor will it help return the lives of the 1.5 million Armenians murdered for their culture. However, the A.S. decision will demonstrate UCSD’s commitment against cultural genocide, and it will help send a clear and strong message of unity to the millions of oppressed groups who continue to see their freedoms suppressed. Divesting is an important tool of our institution to create change in countries where we otherwise lack power and influence to preserve cultural liberty. UCSD will also be part of a growing movement of the international fight for everyone’s right to live according to their culture and beliefs. The UCSD Guardian’s Editorial Board therefore applauds A.S. Council for its recommendation to divest from Turkey as part of a global fight for cultural liberty.

 

Correction: A previous version of this editorial states that UCSD’s A.S. Council would divest $74 million from the Republic of Turkey. The editorial has now been corrected to reflect that by approving the resolution, Council is officially calling on the UC Office of the President to divest $74 million from Turkey.

10 thoughts on “An Ethical Divestment

  1. Another thing, if you guys are so-concerned about Human Rights, let’s not forget how Armenian forces in the early 1990s expelled 750,000 Azerbaijanis from Nagorno Karabagh. Or how Armenian forces massacred civilians during the Khojaly massacre. What about ASALA terrorism in the 1970s which killed Turkish Diplomats? Or what about how Armenian diasporans were behind the scenes of creating today’s PKK terrorist group, which was created in the Southeast of Turkey and is currently operating? Have you guys ever thought of listening to both sides of the story, rather than being controlled by a fundamentalist and racist student group.

  2. First of all, the claims of Turkey “bombing” Kurdish communities is false. The PKK is a separatist terrorist group who seeks to divide the Turkish Territorial integrity and Turkey has a right to bomb PKK targets as much as they want. A majority of Kurds are against PKK terrorism, like all of various diverse ethnic groups which consist the Turkish Republic. If Kurds are so discriminated in society in Turkey, then how did Turgut Ozal become President of Turkey. Or how did Ismet Inonu become President of Turkey. What about top government ministers like Mehmet Simsek, Zafer Caglayan, Mehdi Eker, Binali Yildirim, Hakan Fidan, Mehmet Gormez, Cevdet Yilmaz and so on?

    Another thing is nobody is denying Armenian suffering. What happened was is at the end of the Ottoman Empire era, Imperialist Powers were using certain ethnic groups as pawns, and Armenians attempted to create a Greater Armenia at the expense of Turkish, Kurdish, Laz and Circassian lives, which caused a civil war, were there were deaths, but on both ends. Why doesn’t the Armenian government have the courage to take Turkey to the International Courts? Why didn’t the Armenian Diaspora take Turkey to the Hague? Because the Armenian Diasporas and Government fear that the term “Genocide” does not represent what happened in 1915. The Armenian Diasporas plan to liberate so-called imaginary “West Armenia” will faill too!

    Oh btw, Istanbul existed since 1453. If you racists are gonna call Istanbul, Constantinblablabla, then call New York, New Amsterdam.

  3. The only body that can declare a legally declare a genocide is the U.N. The U.N. does not acknowledge an Armenian genocide. Investment of vital funds shold not be based on emotions, just sound financials.

    1. This is no place for childish games of megalomania. Who is the “A.S. Council unanimously voted” ? Is this a new United Nations or continuation of the old League of Nations with any jurisdiction out of the class room? The rules have been set by the UN, you either follow the rules or quit shouting.

  4. For a display of the lack of education in modern-day Turkey on the crimes of their predecessor empire (and of the Young Turk government which rose from its ashes and perpetrated the mass killings), and of the international effort to silence and belittle descendants of survivors of the genocide, look no further than these comments by individuals with absolutely no association with UCSD. They fail to understand that denial of historical fact equates to complicity in them. Further, they don’t understand that divestment was not only a statement on the denial of the Armenian Genocide, but on the Repulic of Turkey’s atrocious human rights record in the past several decades (and beyond).

    Thank you to the Guardian for an honest piece discussing the issue and for your support in the student body’s goals and concerns.

  5. Firstly, the Armenian allegations are against Ottoman Empire. The modern Turkey was only founded in 1923. Why would Turkey be blamed for an allegation that is not legally established and that is alleged to have taken place before its foundation?
    Just immediately after the 1st World War, the British investigated the so-called the Armenian claims within the context of Malta Tribunals (1919/1922 time period) , no concrete evidence of genocide claims was found. Similarly, ECHR ruling can be read as a legal interpretation that there is no general consensus about the 1915 happenings. One question: I just wonder why the Council takes a selective approach and only picks on Turkey. Since they already embarked on this path, they should also make a disinvestment recommendation against France who massacred Algerian people in 1960s? Why don’t they make recommendations against Japanese who deny their well-established atrocities against Chinese and Korean people? What is the reason for this partiality?

  6. International law says there is no Armenian genocide. ECHR, the highest court in Europe, in its )ct 15, 2015 ruling determined that Armenian claims are an opinion, not a fact and that it cannot be compared a Jewish Holocaust, which contrary to Armenian allegations, is proven by a court verdict. Based on an opinion deceptively dressed as “irefutable fact”, a resolution is passed and the UC system is being defrauded. Chalk one off to the Armenian propaganda.

    1. What an idiotic assessment of the ECHR’s rulings in Switzerland v Perincek. The court had absolutely no ruling over the validity of the fact of the Armenian Genocide.

      Further, the Republic of Turkey is a consistent violator of basic human rights, and divestment is a statement against such a regime.

      You claim this victory as an effort of Armenian propaganda (which it is not), yet your comment here is proof of the Turkish propaganda machine spreading falsities about proven history. What is your association with our university?

      1. Firstly, the Armenian allegations are against Ottoman Empire. The modern Turkey was only founded in 1923. Why would Turkey be blamed for an allegation that is not legally established and that is alleged to haven taken place before it foundation?
        Just immediately after the 1st World War, the British investigated the so-called the Armenian claims within the context of Malta Tribunals (1919/1922 time period) , no concrete evidence of genocide claims were found. Similarly, ECHR ruling can be read as a legal interpretation that there is no general consensus about the 1915 happenings. One question: I just wonder why does Council take a selective approach and only picks on Turkey.. Since they already embarked on this path, they should also make recommendation against France who massacred Algerian people in 1960s ? Why don’t they make recommendations against Japan who deny their well-established atrocities against Chinese and Korean people? What is the reason for this partiality?

        1. We are not arguing today… unless you can prove under international law, that crime and punishment of a hundred or thousands of years can be inherited and widespread contagiously to millions of people and insult.. May be another “idiotic assesment” can be made by the commentator on the following clear UN stipulations. I simple ask: WHERE IS YOUR COURT VERDIC ? Why you don’t go to the authorized office butcontinue these unfounded, unproven, documentarily unsopported and not even “neutrally eye witnessesd” slanders:
          https://www.oas.org/dil/1948_Convention_on_the_Prevention_and_Punishment_of_the_Crime_of_Genocide.pdf
          Article 6 Persons charged with genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in Article 3 shall be tried by a competent tribunal of the State in the territory of which the act was committed, or by such international penal tribunal as may have jurisdiction with respect to those Contracting Parties which shall have accepted its jurisdiction.
          Article 9 Disputes between the Contracting Parties relating to the interpretation, application or fulfillment of the present Convention, including those relating to the responsibility of a State for genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in Article 3, shall be submitted to the International Court of Justice at the request of any of the parties to the dispute.

Comments are closed.