Sera is a monastery of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism, and one of Lhasa's largest. It was founded in 1419 and in the past housed as many as 5000 monks at a time. Currently about 550 monks are supposed to be living there. Foreign journalists visiting the monastery on June 22, 2008, found only a handful of monks, however. Most were missing.
According to Geoffrey York of the Toronto Globe and Mail, only one monk was allowed to answer brief questions from the journalists, and he was quickly taken away.