Passions flared in Washington Tuesday as ethnic Uighurs and their supporters marched through the streets.  

They were protesting what they call the Chinese government's rough treatment of ethnic Uighurs in western China. 

Shouting "Shame on China," supporters of China's Uighur minority marched through the streets of Washington.

More than 100 people turned up to protest what they say is China's brutal suppression of their friends and relatives in the western province of Xinjiang.

Rebiya Kadeer is a Uighur, an advocate for her people, and President of the World Uyghur Congress.

"We want to be the voices of Uighurs who are dying in Urumqi in Xinjiang.  We want to be their voices and get their message across to you," says Rebiya Kadeer.

Chinese officials have blamed Kadeer for the violence in western China, where Muslim Uighurs have clashed with Han Chinese, the country's dominant ethnic group.

Chinese authorities say 156 people died Sunday when Uighurs took to the streets to protest a brawl between Han Chinese and Uighurs  in Guangdong last month. 

On Tuesday, Muslim women sobbed in the streets and argued with riot police.  

Han Chinese men wielded clubs, shovels and knives; and the government declared a curfew.

Meanwhile, Kadeer says the official casualty figures are too low.

"Do you think out of all those demonstrations the only people who died were 156?  I don't think so. I believe that the upward number is 1000 and the lower number 500," says Rebiya Kadeer.  

Kadeer spent close to six years in a Chinese prison before being released in 2005  and coming to the United States.

"Uighur people consider me to be their mother and the leader of their democratic movement, and I will continue to lead them," says Rebiya Kadeer.

Kadeer's daughter, Kekenus Sidik, was also at the demonstration.
"My mother was in prison for six years, my father for ten years all for political reasons.  I haven't seen the rest of my family for over a decade.  So I am a Uighur and this is the perspective I can give you," says Kekenus Sidik.