Saurabh Das, Associated Press
A Tibetan monk, left, rails against China as police try to stop a protest outside the Chinese Embassy in Katmandu, Nepal.

BEIJING — The speaker of Tibet's parliament-in-exile called Sunday for China to end its "brutal" crackdown against Tibetans and to allow independent observers into the isolated Himalayan region.

China's Premier Wen Jiabao, however, said during a visit to Laos that the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, was "basically stable" and "social order has returned to normal."

The Tibetan official, Karma Chophel, said at a news conference in Rome that the unrest was a response by Tibetans to China's hard-line rule over the region, and not fomented by the Dalai Lama or other exiles.

"Those who know the true fact of the matter know that clearly this is a genuine outcry and outburst of Chinese misrule over the Tibetan people," Chophel said. "Our demand is that (an) independent, neutral, unbiased, international group should go into Tibet and try to find out the real situation."

Chopel said that violence was continuing in Tibetan areas and urged the international community to do more to stop it.

"According to very reliable sources a very, very brutal subjugation of the Tibetan people is going on in Tibet now," he said. "China is waiting to label Tibetans as terrorists and try to legitimize their crackdown internationally."

Demonstrations by Buddhist monks turned deadly March 14 in Tibet's capital Lhasa and other heavily Tibetan areas. Beijing says 22 people were killed in Lhasa, most of them ethnic Han and Muslim Chinese migrants, while Tibetan exiles put the overall death toll at 140.

The violence has been a public relations disaster for China's communist leaders who want to use the Beijing Olympics this summer to showcase the country as prosperous and stable.

The Olympic torch is due to arrive in Beijing on Monday before it begins its journey around the globe, but its weeklong relay in Greece has already been disrupted by pro-Tibetan activists.

Some 21 demonstrators were detained in Greece as the torch was handed over to Beijing's Olympic organizers Sunday before being flown to China. The protesters chanted "Save Tibet" and unfurled a banner that read "Stop Genocide in Tibet."

On Sunday, China voiced its strong dissatisfaction with a European Union foreign ministers' discussion Friday on the situation in Tibetan populated areas. During a meeting in Slovenia, the diplomats urged Beijing to resolve the problem peacefully.

"The Tibet issue is completely China's internal affair. No foreign countries or international organizations have the right to interfere in it," said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

In a barrage of criticism of the Dalai Lama, Xinhua accused the Buddhist leader of closing the door on talks over Tibet's future — an apparent response to rising international calls for Beijing to negotiate with him.

The United States and other foreign governments have urged Beijing to talk with the Dalai Lama, who has repeatedly said he would be willing to meet with Chinese officials.

While Beijing has imposed a massive military clampdown, a new protest was reported to have broken out Saturday in Lhasa as diplomats wrapped up a visit organized by Beijing in an effort to blunt criticism of its handling of the unrest.

The Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet said the protest took place after armed police moved into Tibetan neighborhoods in central parts of the city. People "started running in all directions, and shouting," the group said in an e-mailed statement.

Independent verification of the protest could not be obtained.

Officials with Lhasa's municipal government described the city as calm Sunday and said they were sending text messages to residents telling them not to "believe or pass on rumors of unrest."


Associated Press writers Alessandra Rizzo in Rome and Christopher Bodeen in Beijing contributed to this report.