Established in 1889, the IPU is a transnational organisation with its headquarters in Geneva. It seeks to promote democracy by strengthening the institution of parliament.
In a letter to the IPU’s Secretary-General Anders B. Johnsson, the former members of the Iranian parliament (or Majlis) said that the “arbitrary” imprisonment of several former MPs as well as holding “completely flawed and engineered elections” constituted the Iranian regime’s “two major violations” of the Union’s charter.
The letter’s publication comes two weeks before Iran is scheduled to hold parliamentary elections on 2 March. Many expect the vote to be overshadowed by a planned boycott by opposition groups, including the country’s most prominent pro-reform parties, the Mujahedin of the Islamic Revolution Organisation and the Islamic Iran Participation Front, many of whose members are either in prison or awaiting jail time.
Last Tuesday marked the first year anniversary of the house arrest of former parliament speaker Mahdi Karroubi. The outspoken cleric was placed under house arrest in mid-February 2011 after he and fellow Green Movement leader Mir Hossein Mousavi called for protests in solidarity with the Arab Spring. “He has been imprisoned inside a rental property and does not have access to basic rights such as access to fresh air, available to regular prisoners,” the parliamentarians’ letter stated.
They say that Iranian authorities have violated another article of the Union’s principles by refusing to hold fair and free elections. “By holding completely flawed and engineered elections, the Islamic Republic of Iran has created an atmosphere that does not provide any guarantees for holding untainted free and fair elections. This has deprived a majority of Iranian people, including many in the political class, from participating in the elections.”
The former parliamentarians urged Johnsson take “necessary actions” in order to “point out and pursue this issue and to prevent further violations of the rights of Iranian citizens.” They described the upcoming elections as lacking “the minimum conditions for competition and will be held within the regime’s inner circle. Those who win these elections can be construed as government puppets inside the Parliament, rather than symbols of national will.”
“Unfortunately … despite joining the Union, the Islamic Republic of Iran not only has not taken any steps to coordinate Iran’s laws and practices with the principles and standards of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, in some cases it is not even willing to follow the Iranian Constitution and statutory law,” the former MPs added.