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The U.S. Department of State has strongly condemned the Iranian government’s imposition of harsh sentences on 11 women’s rights activists in Gilan province. The department’s spokesperson denounced the sentences as “unjust” and characterized them as “an attempt to intimidate and suppress their voices.”

Matthew Miller, the spokesperson for the Department of State, criticized the legal proceedings concerning human rights activists in Iran as “fabricated,” in response to a query from Voice of America’s Persian Service during a press briefing on Thursday. He asserted, “The Iranian regime aims to intimidate and silence the voices of these brave women through such verdicts.”

On Wednesday, Iran’s Third Branch of the Revolutionary Court in the city of Rasht handed down a combined 60-year prison term to 11 women’s rights activists who were arrested in Gilan in August 2023.

Zohreh Dadras was given a prison term of nine years and six months, while eight other women — Forough Samieenia, Sara Jahani, Yasamin Hashdari, Shiva Shahsia, Negin Rezaei, Matin Yazdani, Azadeh Chavoshian and Zahra Dadras — were individually sentenced to over six years in prison. Two other women — Jelveh Javaheri and Hooman Taheri — were each given a year of imprisonment.

The State Department spokesperson said the rulings lack “any credibility and legitimacy,” citing the conduct of the judiciary and courts of the Islamic Republic.

Miller also highlighted widespread reports of torture, coerced confessions and restrictions on legal counsel, further eroding any semblance of credibility in the judgments rendered by Iranian courts.

The activists were convicted in February 2024 on charges that included “gathering and collusion, forming a group with the intent to undermine national security,” and “membership in a group.”

Miller reiterated the Biden administration’s commitment to supporting the Iranian people and stated that the United States will continue to take action to support the people of Iran in practical ways — both seen and unseen.

He added the United States continues to coordinate with our allies and partners to condemn sham trials and to pursue accountability for Iran’s human rights abuses.

Iranian rights activist Gohar Eshghi, in reaction to the sentencing of the 11 women, posted on Instagram, “This regressive government stands as the foremost enemy of women’s rights.”

“This government fears the influence of women. What wrong have my daughters in Gilan committed to warrant over sixty years of imprisonment? Why aren’t the thieves and embezzlers being imprisoned? Why do all corrupt individuals end up as ministers and lawyers?”

Gohar Eshghi, whose son, Sattar Beheshti, died while in custody of the “cyber police” in 2012 for his “blogging” activities, emphasized in her message, “My children, bear in mind that this anti-women government offers nothing but execution, whipping, and torture.”

She added, “The leaders of the Islamic Republic are mistaken. Eventually, they dissolve like snow, while these courageous women are the ones who ultimately prevail.”

According to the Hengaw Organization for Human Rights, in 2023, a minimum of 22 women were executed in Iran, 325 women activists were detained, and 147 women activists were sentenced to imprisonment, flogging, and execution.

The report further reveals that a total of 139 women activists have been sentenced to over 553 years of imprisonment, with 10 of them collectively receiving 557 lashes.