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Genocide occurs within
societies, which can tear them apart by eliminating an entire group of people. According
to the UN Genocide Convention, Genocide is “a deliberate and systematic act
undertaken with the intent to destroy, in whole or in substantial part, a
national, ethnic, racial, or religious group.” The genocide occurring in
present day Myanmar, formerly Burma, and the genocide that occurred in Melos,
are both examples of groups of people who are oppressed by their enemies.
Genocide can be brought upon a society based on religion, nationality, race, the
result from a war. The Athenians committed genocide against the Melians because
of their inability to surrender from the war. The Athenians gave the Melians
warning about the consequences of not backing out of the war, but they
continued to fight, and eventually faced the Athenian’s punishment. They were
murdered in mass amounts of numbers, and subjected to work as slaves. The
genocide occurring in present day Myanmar, is due to religion and race of the
Rohingya. The Rohingya are an ethnic group of people with the majority being
Muslim, and a minority of the people being Hindu. The government of Myanmar is
not only mistreating the Rohingya people, but are also exiling them from
Myanmar and completely destroying hundreds of their villages.

Civilizations
such as Myanmar and Athens may have fuel for their genocide that only they
understand. In comparison, many people did not understand why Adolf Hitler
wanted to exterminate the Jewish population during the Holocaust, but the
Germans believed that their ruler knew best. As long as the leader of a society
can convince their people that their opinions are in best interest for the
public, civilians will do anything to pursue their orders. Furthermore, the
dehumanizing and horrific events occurring in both Myanmar and in Melos are
truly genocides because of their motive to exterminate an entire group of
people based on their race, religion, political views, or involvement in war.

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            The
genocide that was brought upon Melos by the Athenians was due to a devastating battle,
and a tragic loss by the Melian people. The Athenians and the Spartans fought a
brutal war that lasted nearly 14 years, and ended in the defeat of Athens.
Although the Spartans won the Peloponnesian War,
the Athenians did a great amount of damage during the Siege of Melos. The Siege
of Melos occurred in 416 BC, after Melos had showed sympathy for Sparta. The Athenians sent a fleet to Melos and flatly demanded
that Melos bow to Athenian power and become a vassal or else be ethnically
cleansed. The Athenians wanted to turn the Melos from an enemy into someone who
could fight and aid Athens in the war against Sparta. Melos refused to
surrender and fight alongside the Athenians, which led to the beginning of the,
“Rape of Melos”. The Athenians had become so infuriated that the city of Melos
would not capitulate, that they conducted a powerful siege. When Melos could
not take the overflow of Athenian power, the Melians surrendered and faced the
“ethnic cleansing” the Athenians had warned them about. Women and children were
subjected to back-breaking labor as slaves, while the men in the military were
killed in swarms. According to the Melian Dialogue, ” So the Melians
were induced to surrender at discretion. The Athenians thereupon put to death
all who were of military age, and made slaves of the women and children. They
then colonized the island, sending thither 500 settlers of their own.”. An
estimated 1,500 men were killed during the genocide, and many women and
children were sold to other slave owners. The Siege of Melos was simply an
imperial expansion, but it turned inhumane when things did not follow the
Athenian’s predictions. Unlike the genocide in Myanmar, the Athenian power was
subjecting the Melians to oppression based off their resistance to surrender,
while the Myanmar government had issues with the Rohingya’s religion and
location. Therefore, the gruesome genocide was brought upon Melos by the
Athenians due to a devastating battle between the two of them, and a tragic
loss by the Melian people.

           Unfortunately, genocide is not
only a concept of the past, as it is an upcoming issue in Myanmar. The Rohingya
are a group of people, consisting of different variations of Muslims,
Buddhists, and Hindus. The Rohingya people have lived comfortably in the
Rakhine state of Myanmar until a recent request for their own self-governing
state. The government of Myanmar quickly rejected their request and punished
them. The government accused the Rohingya of being foreigners in the state, and
proceeded to strip them of their citizenship. Without the promise of
citizenship in the country, the government brought upon the Rohingya many
animosities, which led to the present genocide. The Myanmar government are
stripping all basic rights from these people, and are murdering and forcing
them to flee to neighboring countries. Many of the Rohingya people have been
successful in escaping to countries like Bangladesh, but the military is brutal
and have been exterminating the people trying to run away. One of the most
horrific acts that the Myanmar military is committing against the Rohingya is
the separation of children from their families. On many accounts, mothers have
reported their babies being taken from them, and killed right in front of them.
Hasina Begum says, “I was trying to hide my baby under my scarf, but they saw
her leg.” “They grabbed my baby by the leg and threw her onto the fire.”. The
Myanmar military’s goal from this genocide is to eliminate the Rohingya people
as a whole, so they target the children as a removal of reproduction. In
addition to slaughtering the babies, the military is also destroying villages,
leaving many people without homes. The huts that the Rohingya people are
located in are made from wood, which is very flammable and causes the fire to
spread and burn down the entire area. The latest attack from the Myanmar
military, has come from a rebel force attack against police. When the Myanmar
government found out about this revolt, they searched for the rebels, but
failed. Because they were unable to find the enemies, they took their fury out
on civilians, slaughtering them with weapons like machetes and assault rifles.
Unlike the Siege of Melos, the Myanmar government does not have specific age or
gender targets for murder, while the Athenians only killed men eligible to join
the military. The genocide occurring in present day Myanmar is fueled by the
hatred of the Rohingya people, because of their religion, nationality, and
location in the state of Rakhine.

            The
genocide in Melos and the oppression happening in Myanmar share many aspects,
in the sense that they are both trying to eliminate an entire race of people,
by means of murder and slavery. Both the Athenians and the government of
Myanmar have an issue with the presence of their enemies, which creates the
reason for their oppression. They both use the same methods and tactics for the
genocide, which is mass murder and anarchy. The Athenians did not have a
specific place for their slaves to go before they were killed. Their concept
was if they saw a man old enough to join the military, he would be slaughtered.
This is the same for the Myanmar government, because they will kill anyone they
see. They do not have a preference, like the Athenians did, about who they
wanted to exile and kill. On the other hand, both of these genocides had many
differences between them, such as the reason for the oppression and the people
they targeted. The main reason the Athenians decided to murder and everyone
from Melos, was because of their defiance and their refusal to surrender to the
Athenian power. When fighting the war against Sparta, Athens saw that Melos
showed sympathy for Sparta, and wanted to change their opinion. The Athenians
believed that they were so powerful and intimidating, that they could convince
the Melians to join their side of the war. When they continued to fight Athens
and not give in, the Athenians began their genocide against Melos. The genocide
that is occurring in Myanmar, is fueled by the Rohingya people. The government
of Myanmar did not approve of the Rohingya wanting to have their own
self-governing state, so they began to take away the basic human rights from
them. The Myanmar government took away the Rohingya’s citizenship, which led to
the mass murder of children and families, while removing everyone else from the
country. Also, the Athenians would only murder a specific age and gender of a
person, while the Myanmar government killed everyone. The Athenians would only
take the lives of men who fought against them in the military, while sparing
the lives of the women and children as slaves. The Athenians genocide was more
restrictive and personal, while the Myanmar government’s genocide is on a
larger scale, being more religious and governmental. Both the Myanmar and
Athenian genocides shared similar methods of their oppression by trying to
eliminate their enemies, but were also very different in the people they
executed and why they were killed.

            Therefore, the dehumanizing and horrific events occurring
in both Myanmar and in Melos are truly genocides, because of their motive to
exterminate an entire group of people based on their race, religion, political
views, or involvement in war. When an atrocity reaches a certain level of
intensity when a group of people begins to try to eliminate another, it becomes
classified as a genocide. A genocide occurs when one government or population,
tries to erase another from existence because of their race or nationality. Genocide
is defined in the Athenian and Myanmar incidents, because of the way the more
powerful group of people tried to exterminate the other less powerful
population. In the case of the Athenian and the Myanmar genocides, the victims
of the oppression define the incidents. The Athenians and the Myanmar
government do not share the same perspective as the Melians and the Rohingya
people. The Athenians and the Myanmar government probably think they are taking
necessary actions to protect their country, while the Melians and Rohingya
people think they are being targeted and murdered. The implications for the
perpetrators when an incident gets labeled as an act of genocide, is that
surrounding countries lose respect and become fearful of the antagonists, and
sometimes create alliances to protect themselves. The implications for the
victims when an incident gets labeled as an act of genocide, is that other
countries and people see the horrific treatment from the larger power, and
create groups to make peace and defend themselves from other potential
genocides. Law abiding moral people can become capable of inflicting such horrible
acts against people, if their ruler starts the movement. For example, during
the Holocaust, no one understood why Hitler wanted to exterminate the Jewish
people from existence, but because their ruler was such a powerful speaker and
gave evidence of how it would have the best interest for Germany, they followed
along with everything he said. Propaganda and rallies started by the ruler of a
country can have a huge impact on the perspective of law-following civilians in
a country. The circumstances that set individuals on a course where inhumane
acts are possible, are mostly during times of war and conflict. When two
countries clash and fight with each other, most of the time the stronger power
has real control of the situation, and determines how the acts will occur. The
term “dehumanizing” gets interpreted into genocidal acts, because the society
that is causing the genocide, strips the basic human rights from the victims.
In the case of the genocide in Myanmar, the government of Myanmar was
displeased with the request of the Rohingya people, so he took away citizenship
from the entire race, making all of the slaughtering and torture possible.
Sometimes genocide does not have to start because of war and fighting, but from
bullying such as name calling and discrimination. The Rohingya people did not
want to fight the Myanmar military, but just requested their own self-governing
state. The Myanmar government took this request as an act of a rebellion, and
began to discriminate the Rohingya, and give them even less rights than they
already. The reaction of the global community has changed with the passage of
time, because during the Athenian genocide, no surrounding countries tried to
fight off the Athenians. Other countries might have been intimidated by the power
of the Athenians, and did not want to get involved in the fight. In the
occurring genocide in Myanmar, countries from all over the world are trying to
help the Rohingya people gain back their freedom, and stop the genocide in its
tracks before the entire race gets exterminated. This speaks to changes in out
tolerance for atrocities committed on minority groups because of the way many
countries are unifying to stand up for minority rights. The United States has
many present-day organizations to protect the rights of minorities such as the
NAACP, which protects the education, social, and economic equality for all
minorities. Overall, the Athenian and the Myanmar genocide are truly tragic
events that left lasting effects on the world and prove the devastation that
genocide leaves behind.

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