Activism Guide – Winter 2019

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 winter, and check back frequently for updates and new actions!

HOW TO GET STARTED
  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 action 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 and if you need any ideas or support.
Important Calendar Dates
January 11
January 19
January 21
February 18-22
March 1-3
March 8
17th Anniversary of the opening of Guantanamo Bay detention center
Women’s March
Martin Luther King Day
AIUSA’s In-district Lobby Action
AIUSA’s National Human Rights Conference – Annual General Meeting (AGM)
International Women’s Day

FOCUS ON YEMEN
REFUGEE RIGHTS CAMPAIGN
END GUN VIOLENCE CAMPAIGN
Close Guantánamo

FOCUS ON YEMEN

The conflict in Yemen has its roots in the Arab Spring of 2011, when a popular uprising forced the country’s long-time authoritarian president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to hand over power to his deputy, Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi. The political transition was supposed to bring stability to Yemen, but President Hadi struggled to deal with various problems including militant attacks, corruption and food insecurity. Fighting began in 2014, and the conflict escalated dramatically in March 2015, when Saudi Arabia and eight other mostly Sunni Arab states – backed by the US, UK, and France – began air strikes against the Houthis. The fighting morphed into a full blow civil war that has resulted in a humanitarian crisis of historic proportions.

The country’s war has ensnared millions in the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with more than 22 million – 75% of the population – in dire need of assistance. Severe acute malnutrition is threatening the lives of almost 400,000 children under the age of five. An estimated 11 million people are at risk of starvation due to the Yemen crisis. Between 40,000 to 60,000 people are believed to have been killed by the conflict since late 2015, but the death toll could be much higher. Hundreds of thousands of civilians have been displaced by the conflict since it began in 2014.

The US has played a role in the crisis in Yemen by selling weapons to the coalition – and these weapons have been used to bomb civilian areas as well as helped with the blockade, leading to the famine we are currently seeing. Amnesty International is calling on all parties to:

  • Abide by international humanitarian law, including taking all feasible precautions to minimize civilian casualties and damage to homes and infrastructure;
  • Allow prompt and unhindered humanitarian access to UN agencies and humanitarian organizations to deliver food, fuel, medicines and medical supplies to civilians and human rights organizations;
  • Impose an arms embargo to ensure that no party to the conflict in Yemen is supplied with weapons that would be used in the conflict. In the absence of a comprehensive UN embargo, all states, including the USA, must immediately suspend all arms transfers to all parties to the conflict in Yemen, including weapons, munitions, military equipment or technology, or logistical and financial support for such transfers.
What You Can Do
  • Raise awareness in your community about the war in Yemen
  • Call on your member of Congress to pass the Saudi Arabia Accountability and Yemen Act! This legislation would suspend weapons sales to Saudi Arabia (which are then used in the conflict in Yemen), prohibit the US from refueling Saudi Coalition aircraft engaged in the war in Yemen, put in place sanctions for persons blocking humanitarian access in Yemen or supporting Houthis in Yemen, and more.

REFUGEE RIGHTS CAMPAIGN

When intimidated by the state of the world, some build a taller wall – but we’re building a “longer table,” a movement of people uniting to welcome refugees in their own ways. Join us as we strengthen communities across the country in support of refugee rights!

What You Can Do

Help us build a longer table with refugees by taking actions unique to you and your community!

Resources Available

END GUN VIOLENCE CAMPAIGN

Amnesty International’s new report “In the Line of Fire” details how the U.S. is failing to restrict access to guns to those most at risk of mis-using them, and failing to take effective steps to reduce gun violence. Gun Violence in the U.S. is a human rights issue!

What You Can Do

Educate your school and local community about why gun violence is a human rights issue:

  • Host a teach-in to discuss gun violence as a human rights crisis.
  • Create an expression of art depicting gun violence and engage people to participate.

Support legislative initiatives:

  • Take Action to help pass anti-gun trafficking bill in Illinois.
Resources Available

Close Guantánamo Action Brief

A year ago, President Trump signed an Executive Order to keep the military prison at Guantánamo Bay open. This order revokes President Obama’s Executive Order, signed 10 years ago, to close the prison. January 11th marks the 17th anniversary of the Guantánamo facility being open for business, and there are still 40 men being held in indefinite detention.

In the hands of the current US administration, the prison at Guantánamo is newly dangerous – it reflects and feeds the fear-mongering, cruelty, racism and xenophobia defining Trump’s presidency. Playing to Islamophobic fears, Guantánamo was founded with the lie that it houses only “the worst of the worst” terrorists. It continues to hold exclusively Muslim men, many of whom were tortured, without charge or trial.

One of these detainees, Toffiq al-Bihani, was among those tortured by the CIA before he was sent to Guantánamo in 2003. He has been cleared for transfer since 2010. During his detention, al-Bihani has faced torture and enforced disappearance, which are crimes under international law.

What You Can Do
Resources Available