The Activism Guide is your roadmap to the work you will do as an AIUSA group.

You’ll find important dates, calls to action, and resources that will help you have human rights impact. Use these resources to plan events that will educate and activate your community.

  1. Review this guide with your group to become familiar with AIUSA’s key campaigns and programs, which all groups are asked to work on.
  2. Use the Key Activism Dates and Take Action sections for each human rights issue to help you build your spring activism calendar.
  3. Complete the form at the bottom of this page to let us know what you’re working on. We’ll make sure you have resources for each area and update you when new information or tools are available.
  4. Get creative! The Activism Guide provides you with the basics, but we hope you’ll use it to put your stamp on our work. Let us know your plans for the spring or if you need any ideas or support.
February 23-25
February 26
March 8
March 11
March 21
April 6
April 26
June 20
Annual General Meeting, Washington D.C.
Lobby Day, Washington D.C.
International Women’s Day
Taner Kılıç’s birthday
International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
Get on the Bus (GOTB)
Anniversary of human rights defender Xulhaz Mannan’s death
World Refugee Day
Torture Awareness Month
Launch of Pride Festivities

The Rohingya Crisis
Human Rights Defenders
Stop Unlawful Killing By Police
Abolish the Death Penalty
End Gun Violence
Stop Online Violence Against Women
Justice for Indigenous Women
Security & Human Rights
Individuals at Risk

The Rohingya Crisis

The Rohingya are a predominantly Muslim ethnic minority in the Rakhine State of Myanmar. For decades, they have been oppressed by state-sponsored, institutionalized discrimination and persecution. Since late August 2017, the Myanmar military has waged a devastating campaign of ethnic cleansing and violence against the Rohingya minority. An unknown number have been killed in mass shootings, women and girls have been raped, and entire Rohingya villages have been burned to the ground. These crimes against humanity have been documented in a recent Amnesty International report.

Take Action

  1. Raise public awareness on the Rohingya crisis in your community:
    • Hold a public forum or teach-in on refugees focusing on the plight of the Rohingya. Screen the virtual reality video “I Am Rohingya”.
    • Contact your local media and ask them to write an article or host a radio show on the Rohingya. Cite Amnesty’s report Caged Without a Roof: Apartheid in Myanmar’s Rakhine State.
    • Host a photo exhibit using documentation from Amnesty’s researchers on the ground. Share these images in your community and tell the story of the Rohingya. For help on accessing the images, contact [email protected].
  2. Urge your member of Congress to stand on the right side of history by co-sponsoring this urgently needed, bipartisan legislation: The Burma Human Rights and Freedom Act of 2017 (S.2060) and The BURMA Act of 2017 (H.R. 4223). Send a message to your representatives and learn more here.
  3. On February 23, 2018, Amnesty International activists from all over the country will kick off AIUSA’s Annual General Meeting in Bethesda, Maryland with a public art installation made up of origami doves. This art action is a symbol for peace and the protection of human rights for the Rohingya. Use half of an 8 ½” by 11” white paper and create an origami dove. Check out this origami instructional video for details. Send your doves to this address and make sure they’ll arrive by February 20, 2018:
  4. Attn: AIUSA Campaigns – Rohingya Crisis
    Amnesty International USA
    600 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Suite #500
    Washington, DC 20003

  5. Get on the Bus with Amnesty International in NYC. On April 6, 2018, activists will gather in New York City for a demonstration calling on Commander-in-Chief General Min Aung Hlaing to order his troops to put a stop to the ongoing crimes against humanity and campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya people. If you can’t make it to New York City, organize a solidarity rally in your community! Click here to learn more about GOTB.


Imagine how you’d feel if you lost your home, your parents and your friends and had to flee your country. What if you needed the help of total strangers? That is the situation that millions of people around the world are facing. They are refugees – people fleeing war, violence and persecution. Right now, there are 22.5 million refugees – the largest humanitarian crisis since World War II. More than half of the world’s refugees are children. Take action to free kids growing up in “baby jails” through #TheBerksKids campaign, and help us build an America that welcomes refugees through the #IWelcome campaign.

The Berks Kids

Every year, tens of thousands of people come to the U.S. southern border and ask for asylum. When people seeking asylum arrive at the U.S. border, including children and their parents, some are locked up.This isn’t new, but the government is looking to further expand it and enact more policies to deter, punish, and criminalize these families.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) detains families seeking asylum at three family detention centers in Pennsylvania and Texas. These “baby jails” hold as many as 3,000 kids and parents every day and have kept some families locked up for years. Last year Amnesty campaigned for the release of four of the families jailed at Berks County Residential Center in Pennsylvania, and with your help, all four were freed. Although the four Berks families are free, the battle is far from over. DHS is trying to put them back in jail, and new families continue to be locked up. We must continue to fight to free families in detention like #TheBerksKids, and end the policy of detaining families once and for all.

Take Action

  1. Gather postcards calling on DHS to free #TheBerksKids to flood the government with appeals to end the policy of detaining families. Request postcards in the form below, gather as many signed cards as possible, and send them back to us. Find out more on how to take this postcard action here.
  2. Sign the online action to free #TheBerksKids, and then use this petition while tabling or at events to educate and engage others. Fill out the form below to request placards for display at tablings, events, or on your window as declaration of your support to end the practice of family detention.
  3. Get on the Bus with Amnesty International in NYC. On April 6, 2018, activists will gather in New York City for a rally to end the practice of detaining families seeking asylum. If you can’t make it to New York City, organize a solidarity rally in your community! Click here to learn more about GOTB.
  4. Write a letter to the editor in your newspaper to raise awareness about family detention, or ask the board of your school or community’s newspaper to write an editorial on #TheBerksKids. For tips, check out #TheBerksKids toolkit.
  5. Pass a student body resolution, or get a school or local leader to make a public statement that says NO! to locking up kids and parents at Berks or anywhere in the U.S. for seeking safety. Find out how in the #TheBerksKids toolkit.
Say “I Welcome” To Refugees

President Trump has slashed refugee admissions for 2018, and we fear that only a trickle of refugees will actually get in due to his “extreme vetting“ policies, leaving many people in terrible danger. Though the vast majority of refugees are living in countries neighboring the crisis they fled, a tiny percent of the uniquely vulnerable refugees needs to resettle abroad in places like the US. They include torture survivors, people with severe medical conditions, orphaned children, at-risk women and children, and LGBTI individuals. It’s these people who are affected by Trump’s decision to close our doors to refugees.

Together with many organizations, we are working to build a wave of communities and campuses that welcome refugees, and force Congress and President Trump to end these anti-refugee policies. Anything you do to show solidarity with refugees – and send that message to your member of Congress – will make a difference.

Take Action

  1. Host a letter-writing event to write personal letters to your members of Congress about why you support refugees. Share your experiences or your family history, whatever makes you care. If members of Congress know that you, their constituent, care about refugees, they’re more likely to fight for them.
  2. Host a screening of 8 Borders, 8 Days, a film Amnesty International is partnering on. Fill out the form below for more information on bringing the film to your community.
  3. Host a table at your local farmer’s market, school or library. Set up a laptop to show Amnesty’s short videos about the refugee journey, invite passersby to write postcards to members of Congress with their personal stories of support for refugees. Fill out the form below to request postcards.
  4. Write a letter to the editor in your newspaper on why your community welcomes refugees. See talking points and a sample letter to the editor in the Refugee Resolutions Toolkit.
  5. Pass a resolution welcoming refugees in your community. Use the Refugee Resolutions Toolkit to guide you. Start by requesting meetings with local groups, leaders and figureheads to inform them about the issue. Share Amnesty materials, and urge them to take a public stance.
Additional Resources

Human Rights Defenders

Can you imagine our world without people standing up for human rights? At this moment, people all around the world are risking their safety and freedom in order to defend human rights. They are facing harassment, surveillance, attacks, imprisonment, and even death simply for standing up for what is right. These people – human rights defenders – are ordinary people who take a stand against injustice. In 2016, at least 281 human rights defenders in 22 countries were killed for peacefully standing up for human rights. They were targeted with smear campaigns, arrested or detained because of their activism, and attacked or threatened. With your help, we can fight back.

Priority Case: Taner & the Istanbul 10

The Director of Amnesty International Turkey, Idil Eser, and nine other human rights defenders were arrested while attending a human rights workshop in Turkey – and then baseless charges of terrorism were leveled against them. We’re demanding that all charges against them and Taner, the Chair of Amnesty International Turkey, are dropped immediately. They are each facing up to 15 years in prison for their peaceful human rights work. We need your help to generate a global outcry to demonstrate that the world is watching. The Turkish government has to understand that as long as Taner, Idil and other human rights defenders are persecuted, the world will not continue “business as usual” with Turkey.

Take Action

  1. Visit the Istanbul 10 action page for ideas and updates on the case, including phone calls to the Turkish Embassy.
  2. Send support to Taner in prison, which helps raise his spirits and shows him he is not alone! You can send him a card or letter at the address below, or by taking a photo and uploading to this Tumblr page.
    Taner Kılıç
    T/3 tipi A/10 koğuşu
    Şakran Cezaevi
    Aliağa – Şakran
  3. Host a “phone-in” action targeting the Turkish Embassy or host a letter-writing party to write to your Member of Congress asking them to speak out on behalf of the Istanbul 10.
  4. Learn about other human rights defenders and take action!

Stop Unlawful Killing By Police

According to The Washington Post, at least 987 people were killed by police in 2017. No one knows exactly how many because the United States does not count how many lives are lost. African Americans are disproportionately impacted by police use of lethal force, and the shootings of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and countless others across the United States have highlighted a widespread pattern of racially discriminatory treatment by law enforcement officers and an alarming use of lethal force nationwide. Amnesty International reviewed US state laws – where they exist – governing the use of lethal force by law enforcement officials and found that they all fail to comply with international law and standards.

Many of them do not even meet the less stringent standard set by US constitutional law. We are calling for state laws to be thoroughly reformed to ensure that police are not permitted to use lethal force except where it is necessary as a last resort to protect against an imminent threat of death or serious injury.

Take Action

Learn more about our work on use of force by police, and contact us at [email protected] to find out how you can get involved in your community. We especially need activists in Washington State to join our effort to pass a reform law.

Abolish the Death Penalty

The death penalty is the ultimate denial of human rights. Amnesty International opposes it in all cases – and works to abolish it. Today, 19 states in the U.S. and two-thirds of the countries in the world have abolished the death penalty, and many more states have not carried out an execution in 10 years or more. However, a few outlier states continue to aggressively pursue executions, disproportionately applying the death penalty to people of color, poor people, and people with mental illness or intellectual disabilities. Learn more about the death penalty.

Take Action

  1. Executions in Ohio have been on hold for over three years due to problems in the implementation of the death penalty, but in July 2017 Governor John Kasich resumed the practice by scheduling 27 executions. Contact Ohio Governor Kasich and urge him not to resume executions.
  2. Fill out the form below to get involved in campaigning to abolish the death penalty in your state, especially if you live in Iowa, Ohio, New Hampshire, Virginia or Washington as we have urgent campaigns in these states this spring.

End Gun Violence

Later this year, Amnesty International will launch a new report and campaign addressing the issue of gun violence in the United States as a human rights crisis. More than 30,000 men, women, and children are killed with guns each year in the United States. Among high-income countries, the U.S. accounts for 80% of all gun deaths in the world, 86% of all women killed by guns, and 87% of all children younger than 14 who are killed by guns. Fueling this epidemic, laws on guns in the United States are inconsistent and weak – and federal, state, and local governments are not meeting their obligation under international law to protect people’s safety.

Take Action

  1. Call or email your two federal Senators through the Congressional switchboard at (202) 224 – 3121, urging them to vote NO on the Constitutional Concealed Carry Act of 2017 (S.446), a bill that would make it easier to carry concealed guns across the country without common sense safeguards. Please let us know you made the calls by emailing us at [email protected].
  2. Sign up on the form below to get involved with the campaign later this year.

Stop Online Violence Against Women

Rape threats, death threats, and racist and sexist abuse are happening to women on Twitter, making it a toxic place for them – all because women dare to have opinions in the public sphere. Violence against women online is a serious human rights issue, and we’re calling on Twitter to do more to end this abuse. Ahead of International Women’s Day on March 8, Amnesty is launching a global report on online violence against women detailing the ways that online violence and abuse violates women’s human rights and the ways that Twitter can help end this violence.

Take Action

  1. Twitter isn’t currently monitoring abuse, and it won’t share how many reports of abuse it receives – so we’ll monitor the abuse ourselves! This March, join our Decoder Team to help us categorize tweets and present our data to Twitter to make them come clean with the amount of abuse women experience on their platform.
  2. Promote the upcoming report about online violence against women and host a press conference or other action on your campus or in your community. To get involved, sign up on the form below or email us at [email protected] for more information.

Justice for Indigenous Women

Native American and Alaskan Native women in the United States face the highest rates of sexual assault in the country, and at least 86% of reported cases are by non-Native men. Many Native women can’t depend on basic post-rape care, as Indian Health Service – where most Native people get their healthcare – has yet to fully implement standard sexual assault protocols across all its facilities. Without access to a rape kit or someone who can administer it, a rape case can’t go trial, as it is lacking critical evidence.

Take Action

  1. Tell Indian Health Service that it’s long past time to ensure all Native women can access basic post-rape care. While tabling, gather signatures on this online action.
  2. Tweet at IHS Chief Medical Office Dr. Michael Teodt @mtoedt and ask him to ensure that all Native women have access to post-rape care, no matter where they are. Consider including some of the following language:
    • Native women in the US are more than 2.5 times more likely to be raped or assaulted
    • 1 in 3 Native women will be raped in her lifetime
    • Many Native women can’t access basic post-rape care
    • Where are the rape kits?
    • Accessing post-rape care shouldn’t depend on where you live

Security & Human Rights

Immediately after the attacks of September 11, 2001, Congress nearly unanimously passed a short “blank check” resolution authorizing the use of military force, and then-President Bush announced a so-called “Global War on Terror.” President Obama abandoned that term, but he carried the “global war” theory forward – and President Trump appears to be doing the same. This dangerous paradigm of endless war has included policies that threaten human rights, including torture, indefinite detention, discriminatory surveillance, anti-Muslim hate, and lethal strikes that create chaos and fear all over the world. Find out more about security with human rights.

Take Action

  1. January 11, 2018 was the sixteenth anniversary of the detention facility at Guantánamo. One detainee, Toffiq al-Bihani, was among those tortured by the CIA before he was sent to Guantánamo in 2003, where he has since been imprisoned without charge or trial. He has been approved by the US government for transfer out of Guantanamo since January 2010. Yet eight years later, he is still at Guantanamo, and President Trump has suggested that he’s not letting anyone leave. Take action online to support Toffiq’s transfer to a country that will respect his human rights.

Individuals at Risk

Around the world, people are imprisoned simply because of who they are or what they believe in. Amnesty calls these people “prisoners of conscience” and we take action for their immediate release. They are people like Raif Badawi, a blogger sentenced to ten years in prison and 1,000 lashes because he wrote articles critical of Saudi officials and clerics. Read more about Raif’s story.

Take Action

  1. Add your name to the online petition to free Raif Badawi, and with your group work to collect as many signatures as possible. Consider holding a phone-in event to generate calls to the Embassy of Saudi Arabia. Call (202) 342-3800 and say, “Hello, I am calling to urge you to free Raif Badawi, a prisoner of conscience in Saudi Arabia. Blogging is not a crime. Thank you.” Email us at [email protected] to let us know how many calls were made – this helps us in our campaigning, and we’ll make sure Raif’s family knows how many people are standing with their family.

Activist Group Sign Up
  • Please tell us what issues your group will participate in this spring. We’ll share updates and new resources for the areas you choose, and make sure you have the tools and materials you need for each action.

  • (i.e. Franklin High School; Local Group 1101)