Lone voice:  A female Uighur lifts her fist to a cadre of soldiers to protest the actions of the Chinese Government against her people this week that left at least 156 people dead. *Reuters photo
Lone voice: A female Uighur lifts her fist to a cadre of soldiers to protest the actions of the Chinese Government against her people this week that left at least 156 people dead. *Reuters photo
A human rights expert urged Bermuda to ignore Chinese propaganda about the deadly riots in Xinjiang and be proud that they had done the right thing in welcoming 'some of the world's most oppressed people' to Bermuda.

Images released by China this week showed Han Chinese women bleeding from the head and being attacked by Uighur protesters during the uprising in the troubled region.

The Chinese have blamed the violence on the Uighurs and claimed it was orchestrated by a U.S. based campaigner named Rebiya Kadeer - a two-time Nobel peace prize nominee, who has been compared to the Dali Lama.

Hans Hogrefe, special assistant to U.S. congressman James McGovern on the influential Tom Lantos Human Rights Commision on Capitol Hill, laid the blame for this week's violence, which left at least 156 people dead, squarely at the door of the Chinese, who are reported to have turned their fire on protesters in a brutal crackdown.

He said the portrayal of Kadeer was symptomatic of the Chinese tactic of labeling any dissent as 'terrorism'.

And he said the 'ridiculous' Chinese claims about such a respected world figure should serve as further evidence that similar assertions about the Bermuda Uighurs could be dismissed.

"Bermudians should feel a strong sense of pride that they have stood up and given a home to some of the most oppressed people in the world.

"No matter what the Chinese PR and spin says after this incident.

"No matter what pictures the Chinese allow to be sent around the world or what Chinese propaganda says about the Uighurs, there is no doubt that Bermuda has done the courageous and compassionate thing in standing up to China and welcoming these men."

He said China had a history of equating any kind of dissent with terrorism and had used the 'war on terror' to step up their repression of minorities like the Uighurs, under that guise.

"There is no question that there is some armed resistance, but the Chinese Government reviews every peaceful expression about political views of cultural autonomy as terrorism."

He added that there were now grave concerns for the lives of Uighurs who had been involved in this week's process amid fears that they will be blamed for the violence and tortured and executed without trial.

Over 1,000 have been arrested and the Chinese Government have already warned that they could face the death penalty.

Since the four Uighurs arrived in Bermuda a month ago questions have been raised about why they could not return home if, as the U.S. claims, they are not guilty of any involvement in terrorism.

The brutal put-down of this week's uprising and the potential consequences for the Uighurs who were involved in what began as a peaceful process appears to provide a deadly answer.

Mr. Hogrefe added: "The harsh suppression of Uighurs in Xinjiang is to blame for what has happened this week.

"Uighurs are suppressed and tortured in Chinese prisons and often executed without trial or without their families even being informed.

"They have no freedom of religion or education, their cultural traditions are being eroded..."

PLP senator Walton Brown, meanwhile, said he hoped the events of this week would, at least, remind people of the lack of credibility of the Chinese propaganda machine.

"It would be utterly incredible if any responsible news organization or democratic country would give any credence to the claim that the Uighur community seeking religious independence from the Chinese Government are engaged in terrorist activity.

"It's no different from the actions of the Chinese in 89 in Tiannamen Square."

He warned against anyone being taken in by Chinese propaganda and said he hoped enemies of the Government would not use potentially negative imagery of the Uighurs to score political points.

"This is a humanitarian issue that goes beyond local politics. I look at it as wider issue of a correct decision to give a home to four innocent men who had spent seven years in prison."