A few days ago a Canadian journalist reported on the strange absence of Buddhist monks from the streets of Lhasa, Tibet. Now Jane McCartney of the Times of London reports that few monks remain in Lhasa's three main monasteries, Drepung, Sera and Ganden. Each monastery had several hundred monks in residence before the March demonstrations, and now they are nearly empty.
McCartney says dozens, if not hundreds, of monks have been detained by Chinese authorities because of their suspected role in violent protests that rocked Lhasa last March before spreading to other parts of Tibet. This did not account for the empty halls of the monasteries, however.
Now Tibetan sources say more than 1,000 additional monks have been imprisoned or placed in detention camps. McCartney says the "detained monks are all young ethnic Tibetans from surrounding regions who had made their way to Lhasa, their spiritual capital, to study and pray in the most prestigious spiritual centres on the Roof of the World."
The monks were arrested because they had not registered as formal residents of the administrative region. Their families have been told they will be released after the Olympic Games are concluded.
You can see recent images of Sera Monastery and its few remaining monks in Buddhism Under Guard, a photo gallery.
Elsewhere -- in today's New York Times, Daniel Slotnik describes a new documentary about Palden Gyatso, a Tibetan Buddhist monk who was imprisoned and brutally tortured for refusing to denounce His Holiness the Dalai Lama.