The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) strongly condemns the arrest of at least 23 civil society activists and political workers in Islamabad, during a peaceful protest held yesterday to demand the release of civil rights activist Manzoor Pashteen. There is no indication that the protestors resorted to violence at any point, although video footage shows several of them being manhandled by the police. HRCP believes that these actions were unconstitutional and have violated citizens’ right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. The arbitrary use of the charge of sedition under an archaic law to curb political dissent – that has in no way incited hatred or violence – indicates how little regard the state has for its citizens’ civil and political liberties. This is cause for concern: the measure of a state is the treatment it metes out to citizens who choose to disagree peacefully with its actions. HRCP demands the immediate and unconditional release of those entire still detained, including Ammar Rashid, Nawfil Saleemi and Saifullah Nasar, among others. We also urge the authorities to refrain from such high-handedness when dealing with peaceful protests.