If your said the name Thor Halvorssen a few years ago, not many people would have known who you were talking about but that has changed over the last few years. The 39 year old President and founder of the Human Rights Foundation has made some waves lately. This Venezulan born half Swiss activist has been profiled in Buzzfeed and has appeared on such varying programs as Fox News and in Forbes and the Huffington Post .
This hardworking human rights crusaders didn’t just appear from nowhere. Halversson has been working tirelessly to fight for human rights since before he launched the Human Rights Foundation in 2005. He grew up in Venezula under a terrible dictator and experinced many of the same hardships, including long food lines that have plagued poor communist countries for decades. His father was arrested for his political beliefs during this time, and his mother was later shot during an otherwise preaceful protest.
While these experiences fuel his passion for protecting human rights, he does not let these experiences overwhelm him today. Halvorssen has been known to work well into the night, and to get up early in the morning when he is working on a project. According to his peers, he is always working on one project or another, trying to fight for the human rights of all people. He has no plans of stopping until all the tyranical dicatatorships are toppled and all people are able to live freely and without fear. Thor at Facebook.
Part of the reason why Halversson has attracted the attention of so many differnt people is because he is not afraid to cross party lines. He does not necessarily identify as a Republican or a Democratic and is not particularly favorable of some of the policies of the left or the right. It is worth noting that he did donate as much money to Bernie’s campaign as he was allowed, but he has not backed down on canditates from all sides of the politcal spectrum. He also has taken money from both conservative and liberal organizations, but will not allow them to dictate his polices.
Human rights activist and film producer Thor is no stranger to controversy. Although pigeonholed by many for his willingness to expose cruelty on the part of leftist regimes, Halvorssen actually began his career as an organizer against apartheid in South Africa. The Venezuelan activist of Norwegian ancestry is the President of the Human Rights Foundation. Halvorssen is also a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied political science and quickly became known for inquisitive nature and perspicacity.
For Halvorssen, human rights hit home. His father was a political prisoner of the Chavez regime in Venezuela for a time and his mother suffered a bullet wound while protesting for his release. Inspired by his own personal experience with tyranny, Halvorssen founded the Human Rights Foundation in New York in 2004. The organization’s mission is to foster democratic values, free speech, and respect for human rights in Latin America and all over the world. The Human Right’s Foundation’s crowning achievement has securing the freedom of seven political prisoners. Thor at Facebook .
Halvorssen has been a vocal critic of human rights abuses and atrocities committed by the Chinese government. The Human Rights Foundation worked diligently for the release of Liu Xiaobo, who invited Halvorssen to be his guest at Xiaobo’s Nobel Prize ceremony. Halvorssen and the HRF wholeheartedly support sanctions to force China’s hand on the issue of the rights of the Uyghur people. Halvorssen believes that human rights are not a political issue and that the abuse of human rights should be cast into the light no matter who the perpetrator may be.
In the movies, Thor carries a magic hammer and battles evil. In real life, Thor Halvorssen has no hammer, just words, activism, and his small group called Human Rights Watch. With all that, he’s calling out the world’s dictators.
A recent example of this is an article Halvorssen penned for The New York Post about the chaos gripping his native Venezuela. He pointed out how the government of President Nicolas Maduro has looted the nation’s treasury, resulting in empty stores and a lack of even the most basic health care at hospitals. Halvorssen backed up those words with action, suing a group of Venezuelans for allegedly overbilling Maduro’s government for building nearly a dozen non-functioning power plants, then laundering the money or bribing government officials. Thor Halvorssen LinkedIn .
But Venezuela is not the only target for Halvrossen and Human Rights Watch. A good amount of his focus is on North Korea, which has been ruled by the iron-fisted Kim family since the late 1940s. One of the most oppressive regimes in the world, Thor has sought to let the population know about the outside world by sending balloons over the DMZ that divides North and South Korea carrying DVDs and flash drives containing TV shows, movies, and news articles. He also helped found the Oslo Freedom Forum, which puts on events every year advocating freedom.
Along with advocating for freedom, Thor Halvorssen has a passion for film making. He has been a producer for the movies Freedom’s Fury, about the 1956 Hungarian Uprising, and The Sugar Babies, about human trafficking in the Dominican Republic. He is also working on a film adaptation of the Robert Heinlein novel The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.
When people talk about human rights, it means much more coming from those who actually suffered human rights abuses. Thor Halvorssen has seen this issue from the perspective of activist, philanthropist and most poignantly, victim. That’s why, when he speaks on the issue, it’s a good idea to listen.
Thor Halvorssen has made himself heard. He is an active film producer specializing in films advocating for his chosen causes. He is also the president of the well-known Human Rights Foundation and founder of the Oslo Freedom Forum which is quickly becoming one the world’s most active and respected summits on human rights issues. He is also seen often on major news stations as one of the leading voices on worldwide human rights issues.
Thor Halvorssen comes from a family that has deep roots in the History of Venezuela. His grandfather built a financial empire as consul to the King of Norway. His father was an ambassador for the previous regime of Venezuela. When the regime changed through peaceful vote, the Halverson family suffered at the hands of the Hugo Chavez government. His father was imprisoned in 1993 for 74 days at which time he was tortured and beaten. Thor, with the help of Amnesty International, secured his release. Contact him, Then, in 2004, his mother was shot and wounded while attending a peaceful demonstration. Others were also injured, and one protester was killed by gunmen determined to be government security personnel click here.
Thor has shown that in addition to having the personal experience, be also has the talent to bring human injustices to light. His films have won Best Documentary at one film festival and got a fifteen minute standing ovation at another. He’s also received awards and commendation from world leaders for all his efforts. Thor Halvorssen will be one to watch for many years as a champion of human rights.