Falun Gong's Attack on Academic Freedom
Helen Farley [+]
University of Queensland
As an academic in a progressive Western democracy such as Australia, academic freedom is something usually taken for granted. With impunity, academics can critique government policy, make a stand with or against matters considered important to society, or bring to light those things that may be unknown to members of the general public. In this environment, as an academic in the discipline of studies in religion at a major Australian university, Helen Farley wrote a number of book chapters about the little-known Chinese movement of Falun Gong. As a result she attracted the attentions of a member of that movement who took exception to what she wrote. This chapter describes the systematic attempt that individual made to discredit her as an academic and to have her dismissed from her employment. It describes her employer’s responses to the event and the responses of those academics, societies and publications in the field. Upon further investigation, she wasn’t the first academic to have received this sort of treatment from aggrieved Falun Gong practitioners. This chapter looks at how Falun Gong practitioners justify their persecution of academics who are seen to have presented Falun Gong in an unfavourable light.