The Muslim Public Affairs Council is calling on the State
Department and the U.S. Commission on International
Religious Freedom to condemn the persecution of religious minorities in
China, and to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation of the
of at least 156 ethnic Uighurs and Han Chinese in recent days.

The tragic deaths took place on Sunday, when Uighers (a Muslim minority
population in the eastern Chinese province of Xinjiang) held a peaceful
demonstration to demand a government inquiry into an earlier violent
conflict between Uighurs (the region's largest ethnic group) and the
Han (the
country's dominant group).

On Tuesday, media reports showed a chilling scene -- Han Chinese
clutching meat cleavers, pipes and clubs as they marched down the
streets of the
Xinjiang capital looking for Uighurs.

The mistreatment of the Uighur population has been widely documented
for decades. The Chinese government has conducted what many
observers call "cultural cleansing," by moving a huge number of Han
migrants to the province, and creating policies that limit the use of
the Uighur
language, restrict religious practices and foster job discrimination.

In recent years, the Chinese government has been under heavy
international fire for brutally suppressing Tibet's Buddhist
population, while pointing
a misdirected finger at the Dalai Lama for the unrest. So it's no
surprise that today, the same government is busy pointing a misdirected
finger at
Rebiya Kadeer, president of the Uigur American Association, living in
the United States for the tensions.

Since 9/11, China has openly exploited the U.S. war on terror, which
has been evidenced by its frequent references to Uighur nationalists as
"terrorists" and has repeatedly responded to demands for Uighur
independence with human rights violations.