Two Pakistani transgender women were tortured to death in Saudi Arabia, sparking backlash from LGBTQ rights activists from across the world.
Amna, 35, and Meeno, 26, originally from the Pakistani province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, were arrested in Riyadh, the capital city of Saudi Arabia, for wearing women's clothing in public. In the ultraconservative Gulf kingdom, dressing in clothing that doesn't confirm with your sex assigned at birth is a punishable offense.
Local police raided a guest house and arrested 35 people who were in a meeting. According to civil rights activists, Amna and Meeno were put in sacks and beaten with sticks until they succumbed to their injuries.
Eleven of the people paid a fine of 150,500 riyals ($40,100) and were released but 22 people are still being held in custody.
“Amnesty International has been unable to verify this information, but urges the Saudi Arabian authorities to comply with their duty to conduct a thorough and independent investigation into any allegation of torture and extra-judicial executions and bring those suspected of criminal responsibility, including state agents, before ordinary courts in proceedings that meet international standards of fair trial and without the recourse to the death penalty,” said an Amnesty International spokesman.
“Torturing humans after throwing them into bags and beating them with sticks is inhumane. 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,” said Qamar Naseem, a transgender rights activist.
“Pakistan human rights activists demand information from Saudi Arabia over 11 transgender people still in custody.” https://t.co/iEAOqXmogQ— Senthorun Raj (@senthorun) March 3, 2017
Saudi police packed two transgender Pakistanis into a sack and beat them to death with sticks.https://t.co/GFyA7LKdyl— Julie Lenarz (@MsJulieLenarz) March 3, 2017
Farzana, another transgender woman, said the police officers’ actions were unethical because the people were not involved in any criminal activities. She also said Saudi government does not allow members of the transgender community to perform Hajj or Umrah — pilgrimages to Mecca performed by Muslims.
Confusion exists regarding this claim. In 2016, local news reports revealed a Saudi Consul General told the Travel Agents Association of Pakistan to deny visas to any transgender person who wants to make the pilgrimage. The TAAP has denied these claims and so does the Saudi government.
Activists and theologists believe the government of Saudi Arabia is violating basic human rights. In fact, Pakistani religious scholar Javed Ahmed Ghamidi stated transgender people have a long legacy that dates back centuries.