A leaked US Government internal communique has revealed that Nepali police closed down a press conference held by a local Buddhist community group on July 25 2002, convened to protest statements by followers of Shugden who impugned the Dalai Lama and Tibetan refugees in Nepal.
Members of the Shugden sect had held their own press conference in Kathmandu July 19 to denounce the Dalai Lama’s six-year-old ‘ban’ on the worship of the deity. Sect members also alleged that the Dalai Lama’s administration had used Nepal for “anti-China” activities” for more than forty years. In particular, they singled out Mustang district, in north-central Nepal along the Tibet border, as the site of such activities.
The July 25 press conference, organized by the ‘Srongtsen Bhrikuti Social and Cultural Upliftment Association’ at a hotel in the capital, ended abruptly after a handful of policemen entered the hall and ordered the proceedings to stop. The Dalai Lama’s personal representative in Nepal was reading a statement at the time.
According to a witness, the police asked who had organized the event and whether the sponsoring organization was duly registered. They then took two of the organizers, Nepali nationals named Pasang Sherpa and Wangchuk Norbu, away to police headquarters. Twenty-five journalists witnessed the episode, including representatives of Nepal’s major private media outlets [Despite this, Nepalese media refrained from reporting the event].
Tibetans were bitter that their briefing was closed down while the Shugden press conference had not been. One alleged that the Shugden organization receives funding and support from the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu, and that the July 25 press briefing had been shut down at the Chinese Embassy’s urging.
A statement released by the Srongtsen Bhrikuti Association at the July 25 press briefing continued in the same vein. It asserted that the Shugden followers were trying to foment “mistrust and misunderstanding” between the Tibet refugees and the government of Nepal. The statement also defended the Dalai Lama, quoting at length from his Nobel Peace Prize citation, and expressed gratitude to Nepal’s King, his government and the people of Nepal for harboring Tibetans.