On Sunday, the Turkish DNA Project took to Twitter to call on Turks in a now deleted tweet to boycott Ancestry.com, the largest for-profit genealogy company in the world, after results on the website highlighted how non-Turkish groups in Anatolia assimilated over time into modern Turks.
“We call all Turks to boycott this company: @Ancestry,” read a tweet from the project. “AncestryDNA prioritizes to demonize the Turkish people and delegitimaze their presence in Turkey rather than giving information about the genetic structure of the relevant population.”
In a follow up post, the account wrote that it was lodging its complaints because of the wording chosen by Ancestry.com which it says paints Turks as “the bad guys.”
To make their point, the Turkish DNA Project included entries from Ancestry.com for Pontian Greeks, Armenians and Bulgarians during the time of the Ottoman Empire. Included are descriptions of harsh life under Ottoman rule, discrimination on the basis of religion, and ethnic massacres conducted against both populations during the 19th and 20th centuries.
For example, in the case of the Pontian Greeks, Ancestry.com highlights how many within this community learned the Turkish language and adopted Islam to widen the opportunities available too them within Ottoman society. It also mentions the reprisals against Pontian Greeks and Bulgarians who were accused of siding with Russia in the wars against Turkey that dotted across the 19th century.
Ancestry.com’s descriptions also make a point to mention the dislocation and ethnic cleansing that affected non-Turkish communities following the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1922. It refers directly to the population exchanges with Greece in 1923 under the Treaty of Lausanne and the Armenian genocide from 1915 to 1923.
Turkey has since its founding followed a state-dictated understanding of its history. It is for this reason that Turkey vigorously resists any recognition of certain historical events such as the Armenian genocide and criminalises its acknowledgement. Worldwide, Turkey has waged lobbying campaigns against other countries, including the United States, officially recognising the events of 1915 as “genocide.”
This remained effective until April 24, 2021 when President Joe Biden officially recognised the Armenian genocide on Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day.
Uzay Bulut, a Turkish journalist, said on Twitter that the resistance to accepting the violent and bigoted chapters of Turkish history has only produced more suffering for non-Turkish minorities over time.
“Why are Turkish nationalists so terrified of the truth? Because if they face it, the lies they've come up with will be shattered to the ground,” she wrote in reply to the Turkish DNA Project’s posts.
“Through these lies, hatred has grown which made them commit so many crimes against Greeks, Armenians, Assyrians, Jews and others.”