Activism Guide – Spring 2021
Amnesty International is built on the idea that people coming together against injustice can be a game-changer! The sum of each of our actions creates a powerful force that has proven to be effective in igniting positive social change. Use this guide to take action this year, and check back frequently for updates and new actions!
View Resources for Amnesty Groups to support your activism during COVID-19.
Check out the AIUSA Events Calendar for opportunities in the coming months.
Immigrants and asylum-seekers detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have been left behind during this pandemic. Detention facilities, well-documented to have negligent medical care, inadequate basic hygiene, and overcrowding, have become tinderboxes for COVID-19, and Black and brown people who make up the majority of detained people have faced a long history of abuse and discrimination in detention. They are now at heightened risk of contracting and becoming seriously ill or dying from COVID-19. As the toll of the pandemic and systematic immigration detention continue to disproportionately impact Black and brown communities, the US government must release people from detention immediately. Our collective voices and activism over the past several years have helped stop individuals and families from being deported back to danger and helped get dozens of folks released from detention, and we’re not stopping there: we now call on President Biden and his administration to protect those in his care – to free people, including all families, from ICE detention in his first 100 days.
This International Women’s Day, support the Global Health, Empowerment and Rights (HER) Act, which would permanently end the Global Gag Rule and encourage your elected representative to co-sponsor the Global HER Act.
The “Global Gag” rule cuts off U.S. foreign assistance to global organizations, clinics, and hospitals because of their policies or practices on abortion. While no U.S. money ever goes to abortion or abortion services because of previous U.S. law, the Global Gag rule means that organizations that receive U.S. International aid for other reasons — like maternal health, HIV prevention, or fighting disease — can’t so much as educate their communities on safe abortion, no matter what the laws of that country are, or they will lose funding. This policy is deadly and violates the basic rights of millions of people globally to health, information, free speech, and even life. President-elect Biden has vowed to rescind this policy for his presidency, but we must permanently end the Global Gag Rule so that no president can reintroduce it.
This International Women’s Day we are also highlighting two women’s Urgent Action cases:
COVID-19 is exacerbating the homegrown public health crisis that is gun violence in the U.S. Communities that already feel the impact of gun violence the most are being affected disproportionately by the pandemic, and the organizations designed to stop gun violence before it happens are critically endangered at a time when they are needed the most. The U.S. has a duty to take positive action to address gun violence, especially where models exist that could reduce it while making a long term and life-changing impact on systematically disenfranchised communities.
Amnesty International is urging the 117th Congress to introduce and pass legislation which supports the funding and implementation of evidence-based violence prevention and intervention programs, including the Break the Cycle of Violence Act. Community-based solutions are proven to decrease gun homicides at rates higher than even the best legislative efforts. These programs offer life-changing opportunities and facilitate collaboration among communities of color, hospitals, police and other public institutions.
As of January 9, 2021, 16 people have been killed and 83 injured by gun violence. We must have a congress that will act now: call on your Representative and two Senators in Congress to introduce and pass the Break the Cycle of Violence Act. Take action by email, phone, and tweet.
With a new Biden administration, we finally have an opportunity to close the Guantanamo prison, which still holds 40 Muslim men in indefinite detention without fair trial. Most have not even been charged with crimes. Many have been tortured. We need to convince President Biden and Congress to make closing Guantanamo once and for all a priority.
Amnesty International has launched a global campaign called Ban the Scan, calling for a ban on police use of facial recognition technology (FRT). This technology uses existing cameras in combination with new software and commercial databases to track almost any individual by face, comparing footage to millions of images stored in government databases and scraped from social media accounts without consent. Police use of FRT is a fundamental threat to our right to privacy, as it allows the law enforcement to conduct indiscriminate mass surveillance. It can also have a chilling effect and seriously deter peaceful protest, thereby undermining the right to peaceful assembly and the right to expression. Finally, it has a disproportionate impact on Black activists and other marginalized groups, given the extent to which Black and Brown communities are already over-policed and over-surveilled. The campaign launched on January 26th in New York City, calling on the New York City Council to ban NYPD’s use of this technology. Over the coming year the campaign will expand to cover different cities and regions worldwide, including New Delhi, the West Bank and Ulaanbaatar.