1. Religion & Spirituality

Tibetan Buddhism Under Guard

Tibet Re-opens to Visitors


After waves of violent demonstrations rocked Tibet in March 2008, the government of China closed Tibet to foreign visitors. Tibet re-opened on June 25, 2008, three days after the Olympic torch relay passed through Tibet's ancient capital, Lhasa. China said that the success of the torch relay proved Tibet was "safe."

The torch relay of June 21 was a sterile and staged event, according to the few foreign journalists in attendance. The "festivities" were heavily guarded by paramilitary police, and most Tibetans were kept well away. Pilgrims were blocked from many Lhasa holy places, even though the relay took place during the Tibetan Buddhist holy month of Saka Dawa.

More alarming was the apparent disappearance of large numbers of monks. Journalists who visited the Sera Monastery of Lhasa found it nearly deserted, with only 10 of its 550 monks present.

These photographs, taken in Lhasa on June 21 and 22, paint a stark picture of the state of Buddhism in Tibet.

Images 1-12 of 12
Tibetan Buddhist pilgrim Potala PalacePilgrim With Prayer Wheel at Potala PalaceTibetan worshipers pray outside the Jokhang TemplePilgrims at Jokhang MonasteryChinese policeman in Lhasa, TibetA Chinese Policeman in Lhasa, TibetChinese policemen Lhasa Tibet Olympic torchBoots in Tibet -- Chinese Policemen Guard the Torch Relay
Chinese policemen march past Potala Palace, Lhasa, TibetChinese Police March Past Potala Palace, Lhasa, TibetPolice officers stand in front of the Norbulingka, Lhasa, TibetNorbulingka Guarded by PoliceA man takes down a Chinese flag from top of the wall around Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet.Chinese Flag, Potala Palace, Lhasa, TibetMonk at Sera monastery, Lhasa, Tibet, June 22, 2008Buddhist Monk of Sera Monastery, Lhasa, Tibet
Buddhist monk at Sera monastery, Lhasa, TibetInside Sera Monastery, Lhasa, TibetBuddhist Monks at the Sera monastery in Lhasa, TibetBuddhist Monks Wait at the Sera monastery in Lhasa, TibetA Tibetan worshiper at the Sera monastery on June 22, 2008 in Lhasa, Tibet, China. Worshiper at Sera Monastery, June 22, 2008A Tibetan worshiper holding her child prays at the Sera monastery on June 22, 2008 in Lhasa, Tibet.The Future of Tibet: A Mother and Child at Sera Monastery, Lhasa
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