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!

  1. Share 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. 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. If you need support in getting started with virtual activism, let us know.
  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.

View Resources for Amnesty Groups to support your activism during COVID-19.

Important Calendar Dates
  • January 11: 19th Anniversary of the Opening of Guantanamo
  • February: Black History Month
  • March 8: International Women’s Day
  • March 12-14: AIUSA Annual General Meeting & Human Rights Conference
  • March 31: Transgender Day of Visibility
  • April 3-11: National Week of Student Action

Check out the AIUSA Events Calendar for opportunities in the coming months.


FREE PEOPLE FROM ICE DETENTION: No ONe should be locked up in danger

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.

What you can do
  1. Demand President Biden release people, including all families, in his first 100 days: sign this online action, and spread the word by penning an op-ed in your local paper – reach out to [email protected] if you would like to pursue this media tactic.
  2. Pastor Steven has officially spent over two years in a Texas detention facility where inadequate medical care for his diabetes left him with worsened health and where there have already been multiple outbreaks of COVID-19. Demand ICE to free him so he can pursue his claim for asylum without facing the daily dangers of being locked up with a compromised immune system: reach out to the ICE officials in charge through email, calls and letters, to your members of Congress, and to your community through local op-eds – reach out to [email protected] if interested in this media tactic.

PErmanently end the United states’ global abortion ban

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:

  • Loujain al-Hathloul is an outspoken women’s human rights defender in Saudi Arabia. She is best known for challenging the Saudi ban on women driving and the restrictions imposed by male guardianship laws. After 1,001 days in prison, torture, solitary confinement and a 2-week hunger strike, she was released on February 10, but she is not yet free.
  • Nassima al-Sada, (who was one of our 2019 Write for Rights focus cases), is a prisoner of conscience, detained solely for her peaceful human rights work and should never have been arrested.
What you can do
  1. Take this online action and call on Congress to pass the Global Health, Empowerment and Rights (HER) Act.
  2. Call 202-224-3121 to contact your congresspeople to ask them to be cosponsors of the Global HER Act. If they already are, thank them! See House/Senate co-sponsor list here.
  3. Like and share the IWD graphics on our Instagram account.
  4. Retweet IWD messaging from our Twitter account.
  5. Share information and resources on the Global Gag Rule and the Global HER Act.
  6. Visit to learn more and to be automatically connected to your representative via phone.
  7. Plan a virtual lobby day visit your Senator/Representative to ask them to support the Global HER Act. Email [email protected] for more information.
  8. Write an Urgent Action demanding that Loujain’s sentence be revoked and the conditions on her freedom be eliminated.
  9. Sign this online petition and sign a letter to the Saudi ambassador calling for Nassima al- Sada’s release.

End Gun Violence: Congress Must Fund Community-Based Gun Violence Prevention Organizations

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.

What you can do

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.


19 years of human rights abuse at guantanamo

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.

What you can do
  1. Sign the petition to President-elect Biden:
  2. Call your Senators and members of Congress to urge them to help the Biden administration close Guantanamo.
  3. Watch the new Hollywood movie, The Mauritanian, after its release Feb. 19, and host an online watch party. (Watch the trailer in the meantime.)

End Police Use of Facial Recognition Technology

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.

What you can do
  1. Sign the petition to demand that the NYPD stop using this technology
  2. Call on the New York City Council to ban the NYPD from using this technology
  3. Learn about the use of this technology against activists including Black Lives Matter protestor Derrick (Dwreck) Ingram
  4. Demand that your own city ban police use of this technology