London, July 14 : Chinese soldiers have reportedly placed over 1,000 Tibetan Buddhist monks under armed guard in monasteries around Lhasa, four months after anti-Chinese riots left the area in a state of devastation.
According to The Times, troops of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) have sealed off Drepung, the largest monastery in Tibet.
Nobody is being allowed to go in or out. Photography is banned and passers-by are being shooed away.
A camp of olive-green tents and two rings of roadblocks surround this sanctuary of meditation. Local people say the monks pay the army for food to be sent to them.
Drepung was singled out for punishment and "re-education" because Chinese security forces identified many of its monks on video recordings of the protests against Beijing's policies in Tibet.
The Nechung monastery, about a mile south, was also sealed off. Tibetans said its monks were known for their fidelity to the Dalai Lama, whom Beijing identifies as a renegade.
Some monasteries, however, have complied with Chinese officials and installed party-controlled committees, allowing them to pursue their Buddhist studies in troubled silence.
The Sera monastery in north Lhasa is an example of toeing Beijing's line. Its 500 monks did not join the protests and have collaborated in the formation of an "administrative committee" to supervise them.
Tibet was reopened to foreign tourists on June 25. Compared with foreign diplomats and journalists, who have been admitted only on short, tightly controlled tours, tourists have been able to circulate with relative ease.
Accounts from travellers paint a picture of frightened Chinese residents protected by bored soldiers, while Tibetans are divided between government employees loyal to China and a majority of sullen, resentful people.
Superficially, coercion appears to be working. On the road to Lhasa from the airport, every Tibetan farmhouse flies the red and gold Chinese flag. Sentries are posted on bridges and outside official buildings.
On every street corner in the city centre, a soldier stands watch. Most temples and monasteries are under 24-hour surveillance.