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.
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