Ridding the world of tyranny, a task 39 year-old Thor Halvorssen envisions. Thor, president of Human Rights Foundation (HRF) exerts himself with efforts to support dissidents while exposing the dark reality of dictatorships in our world. “…Human rights and individual liberty are not something that should be on the table in any discussion, they are the table upon which all other discussions rest.”(Labash, Matt. “Trouble for Tyrants” The Weekly Standard, 6 Apr. 2015, weeklystandard.com/troublemaker-for-tyrants/article/899824.) Accessed 11 Nov. 2016
His vast efforts to expose the truth are in his blood. He is energized from his Nazi fighting grandfather, Øystein, who served as the Norwegian king’s consul during World War 2. Unexpectedly his mother was shot during a peace protest. Also, there is his first cousin Leopoldo Lopez, who was a political prisoner for challenging the Chavista regime, and lastly his father Thor Halvorssen Hellum, served as a Venezuelan Ambassador for anti-Narcotic Affairs from 1989 to 1993. Thor’s mission of standing up against authoritarians and tyrants runs deep.
Thor’s passion for exposing the corrupt tyrants of the world is spark-plugged by his quest to end the 70-year reign by the Kim’s of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). HRF is distressed by the reality of North Korea, “…Conducting hackathons for defector groups, coming up with innovative ways to smuggle goods into North Korea—such as stealth USBs and giant slingshots that fling contraband across the river from China…unmanned balloons loaded with anti-regime leaflets, cash, and entertainments…wafting north from South Korean border towns.”(Labash, Matt. “Trouble for Tyrants” The Weekly Standard, 6 Apr. 2015, weeklystandard.com/troublemaker-for-tyrants/article/899824.) Accessed 11 Nov. 2016
From his intake of dietary supplements, to plans to be cryogenically preserved, and his fervent desire to rid the world of tyranny, you could say Thor is exceptionally one of a kind. How many people have willingly smuggled information and goods into North Korea for the greater good? From co-founding upstanding organizations, to hosting the annual “Oslo Freedom Forum”, Thor is a maverick who is fearless in the fight for freedom.
For many former leaders of countries, it is hoped that their succeeding generations will be prosperous and respected in their homelands. Thor Halvorssen is a descendant of the first president of Venezuela – Cristóbal Mendoza. In fact, Halvorssen is not the only accomplished member of the family. His father, Thor Halvorssen Hellum, was a Venezuelan Ambassador for ant-narcotic affairs. He also was appointed as a special international investigator of a Venezuelan Senate Commission. Halvorssen’s grandfather, Oystein Halvorssen, served Norway’s King as a consul and was a representative for Venezuelan companies within Norway. Given the success and respected service for not only Venezuela but also the world, one would reasonably assume that Mendoza would indeed be proud of the young, up-and-coming Thor Halvorssen.
Given that Halvorssen holds Bachelors and Maters degrees in Political Science and History from Ivy League University of Pennsylvania, it is no surprise that he is very active in government and legal affairs. More specifically, Halvorssen has made it a point to focus on topics such as slavery, human trafficking and combating unjust dictators.
Even though he is Venezuelan by birth, Halvorssen has made a significant impact not only in his home country but also internationally. In 1999, he was appointed as the chief executive officer of the American civil liberties organization FIRE – Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. In that same year, he led a campaign to encourage U.S. – based Lucent Technologies to adopt a company policy that would require the country of China to certify that none of the company’s products being manufactured within its borders were being done so using slave labor.
Perhaps one of his most well-known contributions to society is his work with the Human Rights Foundation. During the time Halvorssen was helping to lead the foundation, it became world-renowned for its support of high-profile activists of democracy. He was a staunch advocate for longtime Chinese political prisoner Liu Xiaobo. So regarded were his efforts on behalf of Xiaobo, that Halvorssen was asked to be Xiaobo’s special guest during the 2010 Nobel Prize ceremony in which Xiaobo was awarded in absentia.
Dictatorships, human trafficking and many other human rights violations are still, unfortunately, a part of people’s lives in the world. However, with visionaries such as Thor Halvorssen, the fight for what is dignified and just is alive and well.
UPDATE: September 12, 2016
Thor Halvorssen’s production of The Clown has begun filming in Georiga, where most of the film is said to take place. Plans are to film through October. Stay tuned for updates as they come in.
Thor Halvorssen comes from a long line of human rights activities that believe that individual liberty is the basis for all discussions. His father was tortured in a Caracas prison after exposing the government’s corruption while he was working as a drug czar. Thor’s mother was shot during an anti-Higo Chavez demonstration. Unlike his family, Thor does not spend his time acting like a stereotypical activist. Instead, he loves people and strives to make the world a better place. Thor Halvorssen is not your average do-gooder.
Thor has been known to reject the conservative label and thinks of himself as being more of a classical liberal. This is shown by his firm stand against dictators and tyranny. He is the president of the New York Based Human Rights Foundation (HRF), which he founded back in 2005. He has been able to put together a small staff of 12. This team strives to shine a light on authoritarianism that occurs in every corner of the world.
Thor Halvorssen got his start as a human right advocate at a young age. The first stand he made was in 1989 in London, to show opposition to the South African apartheid. After his mother was shot at a political protest in late 2004, he chose to start the Human Rights Foundation. This foundation is focused on freeing political prisoners, promoting tolerance, and democracy in Latin America. All of the work that is done by HRF is founded on the ideals of the 1976 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Over the years HRF has been able to secure the release of seven prisoners. It has also been able to publish two books on individual rights and the responsibilities of the state.
Thor is also the founder and CEO of the Oslo Freedom Forum. This forum is an annual global gathering of human right activists, that is quickly on its way to being the equivalent of the Davos economic forum. He also has a passion for creating and producing films. One of his latest works includes the film adaptation of Robert Heinlein’s ‘The Moon is a Harsh Mistress’.