Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): Bahrain will host an international parliamentary meeting from 11 until 15 March in a new attempt to promote the country's ruling system, as the 146th General Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) is to be held in Manama.
The Union said that hundreds of parliamentarians from all over the world will hold deliberations on the general theme of promoting peaceful coexistence and inclusive societies under the title, Combating Intolerance.
Jalal Fairooz, a former parliamentarian, said, "The regime in Bahrain wants to send messages to the world that it is a sponsor of democracy and freedoms. It wants to get recognition that this parliamentary presence came to support its experience."
"It is certainly an attempt to whitewash the human rights violations it is committing against the Bahraini people," he added.
Bahrain imprisoned former parliamentarians, namely the leader of the largest political bloc in parliament, Sheikh Ali Salman, who was sentenced to life imprisonment for calling for democratic transition in the country, along with opposition figures for supporting pro-democracy protests.
Bahrain also revoked the citizenship of parliamentarians including Jalal Fairooz.
"The violations have affected parliamentarians in various aspects. MP Abdulhadi Khalaf was stripped of his nationality, MP Tamimi was arrested and his parliamentary status was dropped, and former MP Sheikh Hasan Isa was sentenced to 10 years in prison," Fairooz noted.
Asked whether one of the tasks of the union is to discuss the political situation in the host country, Fairooz said, "Discussing the situation in the host countries is not among the tasks of the union, however, delegations should speak their minds on the violations taking place in Bahrain."
"The subject of the meeting touches greatly on the suffering of the Bahraini people, who are being excluded, marginalized and their political will confiscated," he stated.
The government has passed laws barring tens of thousands of people from their political right to vote and run for elections. These laws have banned more than 100,000 voters from casting ballots in legislative elections last year.
Fariooz went on to say that "Holding legislative elections does not mean that Bahrain has a democratic system, as electoral districts have been unfairly managed and distributed to confiscate opposition votes, in addition to the presence of a large bloc that has been naturalized for the same purpose."
"Political isolation laws have been passed against the opposition, while the executive authority controls the outcome of the voting process through public departments and non-independent supervision of the voting process."
"We face a non-free parliamentary body and a Shura Council appointed by the executive authority, which has the first and last say regarding public debates and the legislative process," Fairooz stressed.
Regarding the opposition's role in pressuring the participants in the meeting, Fairooz said, "Human rights activists, politicians and local and international human rights organizations are aware that the regime is using this conference to whitewash violations."
He continued, "That's why, Al-Wefaq issued a clear and targeted statement and addressed participating parliamentarians. There will be more statements and campaigns to clarify the opposition's point of view and urge them to adopt a position on violations."
Former MP Jalal Fairooz concluded his statement by saying, "Certainly, they should demand the release of opposition leaders, abolish the death penalty, put an end to human rights and political violations, and support achieving a democratic system of government in which the sovereignty of the people is established."