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How sacred is a Buddhist artifact?

In this photo taken February 3, 2017, Tibetan monks gather to study the sacred relics of the 12th Dalai Lama in Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet.

Some Buddhist relics from the 12 Dalai Lama’s lifetime are on display at the Potalaa Palace in the city of Lhasan.

The Dalai Lama has been living in exile since late 2012, when he fled to India in a diplomatic gesture to protest what he called persecution.

His exiled Tibetan followers have been fighting to free him from Chinese rule for more than a decade, with the support of international activists and a new generation of Buddhist monks.

A Buddhist shrine in Lhotse, India.

(Photo: AP/DPA)In this photo, taken February 11, 2017 in Lhaoning, China, monks from the Lhasasol Temple of Tibetan Buddhism in Lhamo are studying the sacred objects of the Dalai Lama, who has been exiled since late 2016.

The relics are on view at the Lhaoling Buddhist Monastery.

(AP/Dpa)In the foreground, a monk, wearing a monk outfit, holds up a Buddhist statue at a monastery in Lhoka, central China’s Lhasia province, February 6, 2017.

(AFP PHOTO/DFAX IMAGES)Lhaoning’s monastery has been one of the most popular Buddhist places in the country, and is home to more than 400 monks.

But there have been reports of thefts and vandalism of Tibetan Buddhist relics over the past year.

In this April 27, 2017 photo, monks of the Lhaten Monastery from Tibet’s Lhamos monastery stand in front of a Buddhist temple in Lghoshen, western Tibet, in Lhapai, China.

Some of the relics of late 12th-century Tibetan monk Sogyal Rinpoche are on show at the monastery in Peking.

Rinpoches fled to Canada in 2012 and died in 2012 after more than 25 years in exile.

(Reuters/David Gray)In an April 27 photo, a statue of the late 12 th Dalai Lama is seen on display in Llongfeng Monastery in Llangfeng, western China’s Liaoning province.

(Xinhua/Chen Chen)In March, a Tibetan monk who has long been at loggerheads with China was stabbed by a Chinese police officer while on his way home to Llongfen Monastery, in Liaoning.

The police officer, who is now in police custody, was arrested on suspicion of grievous bodily harm.

In response, the Dalai Lamas Tibetan spiritual leader ordered the Tibetan community to protect the religious site, which houses the Tibetan spiritual patriarch’s tomb, according to Tibetans living in the area.

The incident came just weeks after the Dalai Lhasos nephew, a retired police officer who was shot and killed in his car, was also killed in Lchubun in eastern China.

In a letter sent by his wife and sister to the Dalai lamas exiled government in India, the Tibetan leader said they will not allow the Dalai clan to suffer any more and demand that Indian authorities take all necessary measures to protect their ancestral property, the letter said.

The letter was also addressed to Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The Dalai Lama also urged India to “respect the sacred and non-religious properties of our people.”

The Dalai Lamases home in Ltsa, India, in March.

(Lhamo Duan/Reuters)In a separate letter to India’s prime minister, the exiled leader said the Dalai Clan must respect the sacred properties of the people and to refrain from taking actions that would infringe upon the rights of the Hindu community in India.

The letter came just days after the Indian government said it was “unable to understand” why a letter from the Dalai family to the government had not been handed over to it by the Indian embassy.

India and China have clashed frequently over issues such as religious freedom, Tibet and the Dalai lineage.

The two countries, along with the United States, have a mutual defence treaty that bans the use of force to protect religious sites in the Himalayan region.