Thor Halvorssen has remained one of the world’s leading human rights activists for a number of years after first embarking on a campaign to free his own diplomat father from imprisonment and torture at the hands of members of Venezuela’s law enforcement agents. Unlike many in the human rights activism community, Halvorssen is not simply willing to look for ways of fighting for human rights in democratic areas of the world, but will instead place his own body and reputation on the line in a bid to protect the human rights of those he feels are in the deepest need.
Many of the campaigns undertaken by Halvorssen and the members of the Human Rights Foundation place them directly in harms way, resulting in many of the 12 HRF employees spending a large amount of time in hiding. Thor Halvorssen himself found he was placed in danger when he made the decision to travel to Vietnam and conduct an interview Thich Quang Do, the leader of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam; as the political prisoner has been held under house arrest for over a decade the idea of an interview being broadcast around the world resulted in Vietnamese officials beating both Halvorssen and his camera operator in a futile attempt to gain footage.
In other areas of the world, Thor Halvorssen has become a target for the dictators and tyrants he takes on over their human rights abuses through the press and clandestine campaigns designed to undermine these illegal governments. Halvorssen does not take into account his own safety or reputation when calling out world renowned tyrants including Russian President Vladimir Putin and Angola’s President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who Thor Halvorssen accuses of illegally holding onto power in the African nation for decades while furthering the financial and political position of his own family at the expense of his own citizens.
Not many people will think of the word average when they hear about a person that stays up late at night flooding other people’s mailboxes like hurricane or sending encrypted Wickr messages. This 39 year old is the founder and CEO at the New York based human rights foundations. The foundation was launched in 2005.
Thor, who is part Norwegian and part Venezuelan, speaks American English without any hint of an accent. According to The Atlantic and Forbes, Thor Halvorssen comes from generations of leaders. For instance, his paternal grandfather Oystein was the Norwegian King Consul in Venezuela during the Second World War.
His mother on the other hand is a direct descendant of the First President of Venezuela. She is also said to be related to the man that liberated the Latin Americans from Spain, Simon Bolivar. Thor does not believe that human rights are an issue to be tabled at a discussion; he believes that they should be the basis on which all other discussions will be based.
He does not just like fighting for the rights of people because he read some literature about it; his own father was a victim of human rights violations. He was working as a Venezuelan drug Czar when he exposed the government of corruption and was made to rot in a Caracas prison. On the other hand, his mother was shot during a demonstration against Hugo Chavez.
These events haven’t made Thor sad or bitter towards the human race, as a matter of fact, he always declares that he loves people. He states that the people he loves most are dissidents, fighters of others’ rights, troublemakers and defectors.
Thor Halvorssen has also received his own fair share of mistreatment from was beaten black and blue after an interview went sour in Vietnam.
He refuses to be called conservative and states that he does not even care about a person’s political inclinations as long as they are on the same mission.
Thor Halvorssen has a staff of 12 from around the world, reporting on issues regarding violations of human rights. His course has gained enough recognition to get the support of PayPal’s Co-founder Peter Thiel and Google’s Sergey Brin.