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Major Buddhist monastery reopens in Tibet

A major Buddhist monastery in Tibet reopened this week five months after being shut by authorities during anti-Govt riots that rocked the region's capital.

world Updated: Aug 29, 2008 15:35 IST

A major Buddhist monastery in Tibet reopened this week five months after being shut by authorities during anti-government riots that rocked the region's capital, a staff member said on Friday.

The Drepung Monastery, on the outskirts of Lhasa, reopened to dozens of visitors earlier this week and has been "fairly busy" since, said a staff member who gave only his first name, Luobu. He said the monastery will hold ceremonies on Saturday as part of a larger religious festival.

The 15th century monastery had been closed to the public since March 14, when monk-led protests against Chinese rule turned violent and businesses, shops and vehicles were looted and torched. Since then, Chinese authorities have sent investigative teams into the monastery to determine which monks took part in the protests and to carry out purges of suspected supporters of Tibetan independence.

Beijing banned foreign visitors and journalists from travelling to Tibet for months after the riots.

China has said 22 people died in the violence, but Tibetan supporters said many times that number were killed in the protests and subsequent military crackdown.

Drepung was one of the three historic Buddhist monasteries in the Tibetan capital where monks commemorated the March 10 anniversary of a failed 1959 uprising against Chinese rule. But after several days of quiet protests, tensions exploded on March 14 and the monasteries were ringed by troops and monks were not allowed to leave.