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Distant but Together: Activism in the Time of COVID-19

    Monday, March 16, 2020 - 14:07

    News about COVID-19 in Canada and around the world is at the forefront of all our minds.

    While we are and should be engaging in physical distancing from each other, now more than ever is the time for social solidarity.  

    COVID-19 will have serious human rights impacts that are only just emerging and will exacerbate existing inequalities and human rights violations. We must continue our critical human rights work while not contributing to the transmission of this virus or the panic surrounding it.

    Here are some ways that you can take action and organize in the time of COVID-19:

    1. RECOGNIZE THAT THIS CRISIS DOES NOT HAVE AN EQUAL IMPACT  

    The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic will not affect us all equally. The virus and state responses to it will exacerbate existing human rights violations, such as chronic underfunding of services for Indigenous communities here in Canada and the reality that many Indigenous communities in Canada remain without safe, running water.

    As news and cases of coronavirus spread around the world, so do racism and xenophobia. We all must speak and act against racist and xenophobic remarks and policies, especially as state responses escalate. While many of us will retreat into our homes to help stop the transmission of the virus, we must remember the outside world and ensure that nobody is excluded or left behind.

    The effects of this pandemic on individuals and communities will also vary based on access to essential services like healthcare and the economic ability to take time off work, limit the use of public transit, and other public health recommendations. Speak out about the need for paid sick days for everyone and universal access to healthcare.

    State responses to COVID-19 also risk violating human rights. Amnesty International will continue to monitor and report on states’ responses and human rights obligations. You can learn more here.

    2. MAKE COMMUNITY CARE YOUR ACTIVISM

    Mutual aid and community care need to be at the centre of our activism. Those who are most vulnerable, including the elderly, those who are immunocompromised, and those who are precariously employed, need to be at the centre of our activism and concern.

    Physical distancing is important to limit transmission to those who are most vulnerable. Make sure you are following the advice of public health officials.

    Check in on those in your community who might be the most vulnerable. Consider starting a neighbourhood pod to check in on your neighbours and support those who are unable to leave the house. Recognize the work of caregivers in your community, who are often disproportionately migrants, women, and people of colour, and the extra work they are likely taking on.  

    For a growing list of community care resources, please visit here and see our collection of resources on taking care of your community here

    3. DON’T GIVE UP THE FIGHT

    Our work in support of human rights and a better world will not stop. We must continue taking action, but we must do so creatively without putting others at risk. Organizing can seem difficult right now, but we can continue taking action creatively and without putting ourselves and others at risk. 

    Find the latest actions related to COVID-19 here and then consider these creative ways to organize: 

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    Consider creative alternatives to public demonstrations, such as this Lego protest outside the Alberta Legislature organized by the Amnesty Edmonton group.

    Use this toolkit from David Solnit, Arts Organizer for 350.org, to find suggested alternatives to public events or rallies.

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    Use art to share your message, such as these “Freedom Flowers” for Yasaman Aryani created by Amnesty activists in Ireland.

    Hold a virtual art build online. Create signs or banners and ask people to hang them visibly in their windows or doors.

    Looking for inspiration? 

    Activists across the country are looking at creative new ways to take action for human rights and they're sharing their stories with us: 

    Want to share your story with us? Reach out to members@amnety.ca. 

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