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Saudi Police Allegedly Torture Transgender Duo To Death

| by Kit Bryer
Transgender Pakistani woman at a protest between two hijra groups. Transgender Pakistani woman at a protest between two hijra groups.

Two transgender Pakistanis were allegedly beaten to death by police in Saudi Arabia after being arrested. 

The two were arrested, along with 33 other people, on Feb. 28 in the capital city of Riyadh for cross-dressing in public, which is a punishable crime in Saudi Arabia.  

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The two victims, identified as Meeno, 26, and Amna, 35, were reportedly in a rest house for cross-dressers and transgender women during a formal gathering when the police raided the site.

Riyadh police spokesman Col. Fawaz bin Jameel alMaiman said the rest house had been under surveillance before the raid.

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Police say they found women's clothing and jewelry and proceeded to apprehend all 35 people in the rest house. 

It was at the jail that police allegedly put Meeno and Amna into sacks and beat them with sticks until they died. 

"Torturing humans after throwing them into bags and beating them with sticks is inhumane," said transgender rights activist Qamar Naseem, according to The Express Tribune. Naseem went on to say that only 11 of the 33 others arrested with Meeno and Amna have been released, leaving 22 people still in jail.

"The suffering ended for these two after being physically tortured, however, the rest are still languishing in Saudi jails," Naseem said. "No one is there to save them as the life of a transgender is not of any value to anyone, not even for our own government."

The Saudi government has strict laws against homosexuality and cross-dressing and has faced criticism for human rights abuses in the past.

In 2015 liberal blogger Raif Badawi was publicly flogged as part of a sentence that included 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes with a cane. Human Rights Watch wrote at the time that, "Publicly lashing a peaceful activist merely for expressing his ideas sends an ugly message of intolerance."

Human Rights Watch also discovered video evidence of systematic torture within prisons in Saudi Arabia in 2007 and spoke with prisoners about the abuse.

"The guards came and beat us all," said one former prisoner. "They made us lie down and beat us; they broke sticks on our backs."

In Saudi Arabia homosexuality and cross-dressing, or identifying as transgender, are punishable by execution, imprisonment, fines and flogging or whipping.

Saudi Arabia reportedly does not issue Hajj pilgrimage visas to transgender Muslims, according to a Pakistani transgender activist identified as Farzana. Saudi Arabia does not generally grant tourism visas for any other purpose than Hajj or Umrah, the lesser pilgrimage.

Sources: The Express Tribune, Human Rights Watch (2) / Photo credit: Arun Reginald/Wikimedia Commons

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