Saudis arrest 35 Pakistanis, deny that 2 were killed

Saudi police arrested about 35 Pakistanis, including many trans women, during a raid in Riyadh that disrupted a ceremony in which members of the Pakistani transgender community choose their gurus. Pakistani activists claimed that two of the women were killed by police — a claim denied by Saudi officials.

Reuters reported on March 7:

Transgender Pakistani (Photo courtesy of Express Tribune)
Transgender Pakistani (Photo courtesy of Express Tribune)

Saudi Arabia has denied claims by Pakistani activists that two transgender women from Pakistan were beaten to death in police custody after being arrested in Saudi Arabia along with more than 30 other members of the community.

Reports of the deaths had been carried in Pakistani media and decried in an activists’ media conference on [March 6]. However, a statement from the Saudi interior ministry early on [March 7] said the reports were “totally wrong and nobody was tortured”.

The ministry acknowledged that one Pakistani had died in custody after the arrests.

“One 61-year-old person suffered a heart attack and died in the hospital after being treated,” the interior ministry statement said.

“The Pakistani embassy looked into this case and another one. Procedures have started to send the body back to his country,” it said.

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at

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