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Bill to Ensure Armenian Genocide Life Insurance Settlements Reach

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  • Bill to Ensure Armenian Genocide Life Insurance Settlements Reach

    MaryAlice Kaloostian
    District Director
    Senator Charles S. Poochigian
    4974 E. Clinton Way, Suite 100
    Fresno, CA 93727
    Phone: 559 253-7122
    Fax: 559 253-7127


    August 27, 2004

    Poochigian Bill to Ensure Armenian Genocide Life Insurance Settlements
    Reach Victims' Families Passes Legislature Unanimously

    SACRAMENTO - A measure to exempt Armenian Genocide life insurance
    settlements from state taxation and other calculations related to
    income, Senate Bill 1689 by Senator Chuck Poochigian (R-Fresno), has
    passed the State Assembly and Senate unanimously.

    If signed into law, recipients of Armenian Genocide life insurance
    settlement payments would not have their state income tax, financial
    aid or unemployment benefits negatively impacted by their receipt of
    such settlements. The bill's language mirrors exemptions similarly
    afforded recipients of legal settlements related to the Holocaust.

    "Survivors and heirs of victims of the Armenian Genocide have waited
    many decades to resolve their claims. Correcting a past wrong should
    not have the unintended consequence of financially harming the victims
    and their heirs now," said Senator Poochigian. "The fact that this
    measure passed by a unanimous vote is an expression of support that
    members of the Armenian community have in the California Legislature."

    The Armenian Genocide was marked by unspeakable crimes against
    humanity. 1.5 million Armenians were subjected to forced marches into
    the desert, torture, mayhem and murder. Thousands of innocent children
    were orphaned. Those who escaped left behind all their worldly
    possessions and emigrated to other nations.

    Prior to 1915, the New York Life Insurance Company wrote over 2,000
    insurance policies to Armenians in the Ottoman Empire. Many of these
    policies were written for individuals who became victims of the
    Armenian Genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Turks. Claims were
    denied for, among other reasons, the inability of heirs to provide
    death certificates for the victims of the atrocities. Heirs on the
    policies later sued for the value of the policies. In 2004, New York
    Life proposed settlement with claimants of $20 million. A significant
    portion of the settlement will go to settle claims with heirs on the

    Senate Bill 1689 is modeled after state law that exempted Swiss bank
    claim settlements and restitution payments made to victims of the
    Holocaust. Senate Bill 1689 reflects Senator Poochigian's ongoing
    effort to affirm the historical fact of the Armenian Genocide, promote
    the cause of justice for victims, and guard against recurrence of such
    acts. In 2000, Senator Poochigian authored Senate Bill 1915 which
    enabled victims and heirs of victims of the Armenian Genocide to
    access the California court system to compel insurance companies to
    pay insurance claims owed to victims of the Genocide. That bill
    received the unanimous approval of the Legislature and provided the
    opportunity to pursue contractual claims pertaining to the recent

    Governor Schwarzenegger has until September 30 to sign or veto Senate
    Bill 1689.


    MEDIA CONTACT: MaryAlice Kaloostian (559) 253-7122

    Senator Poochigian's website can be found by visiting:>
    Permission to reprint granted with attribution.