LOS ANGELES–UCLA’s student government–the Undergraduate Student Association Council (USAC)–unanimously passed a resolution introduced by the UCLA Armenian Student Association (ASA) on April 13 in support of an initiative to ban the sale of Turkish goods at UCLA until Turkey addresses its human rights record.
The resolution–titled "Fight to Protect Human Rights in Turkey," made reference to numerous historical and current human rights violations which Turkey has committed towards its people–especially minorities. "What makes this so important is that it not only highlights the historical human rights violations committed by the Turkish government–but also the crimes the government commits against its citizens today," asserted Shant Taslakian–a fourth year Philosophy major and ASA member–who researched goods sold in the ASUCLA store in preparation for the council meeting.
Other ASA members–including Garen Kirakosian and Ani Garibyan–had done extensive research–starting in 2004–before presenting their findings to USAC. "The passage of this resolution is a great step toward justice throughout the world. It is important that institutions of higher learning–like UCLA–take the necessary steps to make it known that they will not conduct business with governmen’s that mistreat their people and attempt to deny and revise history," proclaimed Kirakosian–a third-year Political Science student.
The resolution sends a clear and bold message to the government of Turkey by the UCLA student body. "This was a great victory not only for the Armenian community at UCLA–but for all those who believe in the protection of human rights," said Raffi Kassabian–president of the Armenian Student Association at UCLA. "We have seen USAC pass resolutions similar to this before whether it is with the divestment from South Africa during Apartheid or divestment from Burma. It is important for the UCLA student body to take a clear and consistent stance on such human rights abuses."
The ASA will present the resolution to the Campus Services Committee of the ASUCLA–which consists of various students and economists–among others. The committee must determine the economic impact the resolution would have on the university before they can implement it.
"Going into May’s meeting with a resolution that has been unanimously approved by USAC is a huge step for the ASA. We will do our utmost to work with the services committee in implementing the resolution," said Garibyan–a fourth-year Political Science student.
The full text of the resolution will be printed in the April 21–2005 edition of UCLA’s campus daily newspaper–the Daily Bruin–which is the second largest circulating newspaper in Los Angeles.
The UCLA ASA is one of the oldest Armenian-American student groups in the United States. This year marks the 60th anniversary of its existence. The UCLA ASA seeks to cultivate a true understanding and appreciation of Armenian history–heritage–and culture through cultural–social–and recreational activities.
"Fight to Protect Human Rights in Turkey;"
Whereas the Republic of Turkey has not taken any measures to prevent the desecration and destruction of thousand of Christian churches–monumen’s and artifacts within its borders;
Whereas–the Republic of Turkey continues to massacre large numbers of its Kurdish minority–and
Whereas–the Republic of Turkey continues to have one of the worst records of violating human as well as civil rights–especially toward woman and ethnic minorities.
Whereas–the Republic of Turkey illegally invaded the island of Cyprus–deporting and persecuting a majority of its Greek inhabitants–and continues to take part in the illegal occupation which has spanned four decades; and
Whereas–the Republic of Turkey continues its revisionist policy of denying all evidence of Armenian Genocide of 1915;
Whereas UCLA as a public academic institution–guided by the principles of tolerance and diversity has taken a consistent stand against human rights violations,
Be it resolved that the Undergraduate Students Association Council of the University of California–Los Angeles no longer take part in purchasing or selling any and all goods assembled in the Republic of Turkey until it corrects the human rights violations listed above.
Sponsored by the UCLA Armenian Student Association