Two transgender women were stuffed into sacks and beaten to death Tuesday with sticks by police in Saudi Arabia.
The pair, identified as Amna, 35, and Meeno, 26, were arrested as part of a police raid of a transgender gathering at a Riyadh guesthouse, according to a report the following day in the Pakistani daily Express Tribune.
Like Amna and Meeno, most of the attendees were from the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province in Pakistan.
Saudi security officials were cracking down on a law that criminalizes cross-dressing. Of the 35 arrested, 22 remain in prison while 11 others were released after paying a fine of 150,000 riyals ($40,000). Amna and Meeno were pronounced dead in police custody.
Pakistani transgender rights activist Qamar Naseem slammed the alleged police brutality as “inhumane.”
He said that in addition to the two trans women who had been killed, many more were languishing in Saudi jails.
”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 Express Tribune quoted him as saying.
It wasn’t the first time the Saudi kingdom made international headlines on the issue of trans rights. In 2009, 67 men were arrested in Riyadh for cross-dressing, according to Human Rights Watch. They received lashes and jail time for the offense.
In addition to the criminalization of cross-dressing, transgender people are banned from making the religious pilgrimage to Mecca.