The global onslaught of COVID-19 has placed us at an indescribable moment in history. In a matter of weeks, the pandemic has turned our world upside-down and infiltrated our lives, both personal and professional, in ways we never could have predicted. It cast uncertainty on virtually every aspect of public life — from the global economy to our local neighborhoods and communities.
I have recently returned to AIUSA as an Executive Consultant, supporting the organization’s leadership transition. I grew up in Amnesty — as a member, for years; as Director of AI Canada, and in this role once before. But never have we faced a human rights challenge quite like this. And never have we needed our members more.
Our fundamental human rights are literally hanging in the balance. Jails, prisons, and immigration detention facilities have rapidly become hotbeds for infection, putting incarcerated people, immigrants, and asylum-seekers at an enormous risk. Domestic violence has spiked globally as victims are forced to self-isolate with their abusers. Doctors, nurses, and other workers on the front lines are in dire need of protection, but protective equipment and testing are in critically short supply.
This is the call to action for human rights workers and advocates. Our work is urgent — a matter of life and death. Our outstanding Executive Leadership team, and the whole staff at Amnesty International USA, have been mobilized to meet this moment. We have wholly shifted our work across the organization to respond to COVID, with a comprehensive campaign to engage and advocate for human rights in this crisis.
Distant But Together pools Amnesty’s resources and expertise to meet this crisis head-on and respond with efficiency and compassion. We’re working to ensure that all governments put human rights at the center of their responses to the outbreak and advocating for marginalized groups and those most at risk. We’re also calling on the U.S. government to protect human rights — including the right to health — for all people as authorities respond to humanitarian and public health challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
But we can’t do this work alone. Here’s what you can do to help:
- Ask the White House Task Force to protect the rights of all people
- Ask Congress to address gun violence
- Ask ICE and DHS to protect immigrants and asylum-seekers
- Tell DHS not to ban asylum-seekers
- Tell the Administration to protect health care workers and ensure testing
- Start a virtual human rights action team
- Send a message of hope to people in detention
- Take an online course on COVID-19 & human rights
This is a time when we have the opportunity to help end demonization and anger — and move forward with empathy and kindness. Together, we will beat this.
For more information on AIUSA’s Distant But Together campaign and other ways to get involved, please visit our website.