An Australian academic with a history of making defamatory comments about the Falun Gong spiritual group is under investigation by his university over allegations of academic misconduct.
Campbell Fraser, a senior lecturer at the Griffith University’s department of international business and Asian studies, who has conducted research on organ transplant abuse in recent years, is often quoted in Chinese state media to bolster Beijing’s claim that organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience doesn’t exist.
According to a recent report by The Australian, a member of the Falun Dafa Association of Australia formally complained about Fraser’s academic claims during testimony given at an Australian Parliament hearing on the subject of organ trafficking and organ-transplant tourism in June.
Now, he is under investigation by the university for a third time, according to The Australian. The newspaper reported that the university is looking into a 2016 incident in which Fraser interviewed 11 Falun Gong practitioners in Sydney for an academic project, but dismissed their testimony as not credible.
In addition, during a February 2017 segment aired by CCTV, the Communist Party’s mouthpiece broadcaster, Fraser sought to discredit research conducted by experts in the International Coalition to End Transplant Abuse in China. “Clearly, they are using the so-called organ harvesting to procure a particular political objective,” he said.
Fraser, who says he continues to doubt that forced organ harvesting is conducted on a large scale in China, is currently barred by the university from traveling abroad or talking to the media, according to The Australian. He told The Australian that the current investigation into misconduct is his third, and that he was cleared in the first two.
When contacted by The Australian, Fraser said that China had invited him to speak at international conferences on organ trafficking and that the regime paid for his travel and accommodations. However, he denied that he is “in China’s pocket.”
Meanwhile, the university told The Australian that it doesn’t comment publicly on ongoing investigations, but added that: “We support the right of our academics to talk publicly on their area of expertise. Falun Gong is outside of Dr. Fraser’s area of academic expertise… the university would not support any commentary from an academic that is unsubstantiated or potentially defamatory to another organisation or individual.”
As an example, in an August 2017 article in China Daily, an English-language state-run newspaper, Fraser was cited as an expert who believes previous research on organ harvesting was falsified and that Falun Gong practitioners had made up the claims. “We cannot let cults stand in our way,” he is quoted as saying, repeating a key plant of the Chinese regime’s propaganda.
This is despite multiple independent studies by human-rights experts and medical professionals that find ample evidence that prisoners of conscience continue to have their organs harvested. A July report by the China Organ Harvest Research Center, for example, cites as evidence the fact that the number of transplants continues to outpace the number of legal donations, organs are still available “on demand” to foreign medical tourists, and there is still almost no oversight over the transplant system.
Falun Gong is a meditation practice based on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. It was banned by the Chinese regime in July 1999 after then-Communist Party leader Jiang Zemin felt the popularity of the group—with 100 million adherents, according to state estimates—threatened the party’s authority, and launched a nationwide campaign to eradicate the practice.
Thousands of Falun Gong practitioners in China have since been arrested and detained, with a confirmed 4,251 deaths as a result of the persecution, according to Minghui.org, a U.S.-based website dedicated to documenting the Falun Gong persecution in China. The actual number is feared to be much larger due to the difficulty of transmitting sensitive information out of China.
In recent years, several independent researchers have conducted studies showing there is widespread organ harvesting—the forced removal of organs from unwilling donors—from Falun Gong practitioners and other prisoners of conscience in China.