CalPERS Restricts Investments in the Republic of Turkey

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) made a decision that significantly reduced their exposure to investments currently held in Turkey. The action translates into over a $100 million reduction in CALPERS currency and equity exposure to Turkish issued securities, which brings the total current exposure to under $2 million. Assemblymember Chris Holden, who introduced legislation that would stop future investments in Turkey by the State’s retirement funds – AB 1019, commended the decision.

“CalPERS’ decision to reduce their investment in Turkey should be commended,” said Assemblymember Chris Holden. “A genocide denying and human rights abusing country is the last place our State’s investments should be held. I thank CalPERS for doing the right thing and encourage them to stop all future investment in Turkey.”

“California continues to take significant and historic steps to end the practice of divestment from countries that violate principles of human rights,” stated Senator Anthony Portantino. “This week CalPERS took important, proactive action and did the right thing by initiating the process of eliminating their holdings in Turkey. I am grateful to the community and all the activists for their tireless efforts and tenacity to push forward on divestment and to the CalPERS Board for responding to our collective plea.”

“This is a historic and important action by CalPERS. Turkey should not be benefiting from the wages of the Armenian American public employees in California,” stated Senator Scott Wilk. “I am grateful to both CalSTRS and CalPERS for responding to our effort and the Armenian American community that joined us in this successful effort.”

The CalPERS action followed a similar path taken by the State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS).

Earlier this year, Assemblymember Chris Holden introduced the Stop Investment in Turkey Act, AB 1019, that will mandate the state stop all new investments or renew existing investments issued or owned by Turkey. The legislation is currently in the Assembly Committee on Public Employment and Retirement.

The State of California has a long history of divesting from countries that violate human rights. In 1986, Governor George Deukmejian condemned South Africa’s apartheid policy by signing California’s divestiture law, aimed at pressuring the government to end its system of racial segregation. In 2008, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a Sudan divestment bill due to the ongoing genocide in the Darfur. Students from the University of California successfully lobbied the UC to divest from Turkey in 2017.v