WASHINGTON – When communities, often religious minorities, are targeted for elimination it's called genocide and in recent months, the U.S. has designated mass atrocities committed in two separate countries as genocide.
First, the Trump administration declared China is currently committing genocide against Uighur Muslims, a designation the Biden administration maintains.
And in a bold move, President Biden declared the Ottoman Empire committed genocide against Armenians starting in 1915. This designation had long been sought by Armenians and human rights activists but avoided by previous presidents to spare NATO ally Turkey from embarrassment.
Because religious minorities are typically targeted in genocides the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) monitors these acts of violence closely.
"This is when the effort is really to take an entire community off the map," USCIRF Chairman Anurima Bhargava tells CBN News.
The commission recently held a hearing to highlight the importance of applying genocide designations to mass atrocities and to examine strategies to stop mass sufferings among persecuted religious groups.
"These communities that have faced persecution through extraordinary violence: tortures, killings, rapes in mass form - they have experienced unheard of trauma and horror and to then have a situation where they are silenced, where that history is erased, or it's not acknowledged is at best a retraumatization," Bhargava continued.
Bhargava and her fellow commissioners are closely watching situations many believe already qualify for genocide such as the Myanmar military's targeting of the Muslim Rohingya people.
Also, surviving Yazidis remain mostly displaced from their homeland in Iraq after ISIS worked to eliminate them seven years ago. More than 2,000 women and girls remain missing after being kidnapped and sold - many as sex slaves.