Thor Halvorssen, the founder of the Human Rights Foundation, doesn’t discriminate and he calls it like he sees it. And you may not know his name but many unilateral dictators around the world are very familiar with him. He is a thorn in their side as he has made it his goal to eliminate the world of human rights violations and unilateral dictatorships. And the 39-year-old uses any means necessary to accomplish his goals. But we have to look into his past to see why such a bright fire burns inside of him.
Halvorssen was born in Venezuela to a Venezuelan mother, Hilda Mendoza, and a Norwegian father, Thor Halvorssen Hellum. His father was an ambassador working for Norway within the country and specialized in anti-narcotic affairs. His father was arrested on trumped up charges while investigating the Medellín cartel in 1993. His investigations led to alleged money laundering and bank fraud but they never came to fruition as his father was tortured during a 74-day stint in a Caracas jail.
Thor Halvorssen’s First International Foray Into Human Rights Advocacy
His father was wrongly imprisoned while Thor attended the University of Pennsylvania. Thor quickly got to work, contacting Amnesty International as well as other human rights advocacy groups. He lobbied so hard that his father was eventually released and found innocent of all fraudulent charges.
Mother’s Advocacy And Shooting
In 2004, Thor Halvorssen wrote a piece for the Wall Street Journal. The article covered a peaceful New York City protest concerning the Venezuelan recall referendum. Members of the Venezuelan government security task force shot into the crowd of protesters wounding 12 and killing one woman. One of the 12 people injured was Thor Halvorssen’s mother. The perpetrators of the crime were eventually caught and after some legal trouble, they received only three-year sentences for their actions.
Finding His Voice
It is easy to see why Thor Halvorssen would want to get involved in human rights advocacy. A penchant for being a troublemaker to corrupt powers runs in his veins. His father was a political prisoner and his mother was shot for a peaceful protest for something she believed in.
Most would assume that Thor Halvorssen leans to the right of the political spectrum. And if you thought that, you’d be wrong. Thor Halvorssen does not discriminate politically and he has a track record of bringing people from both the left and the right together concerning human rights issues.
The Fox News Interview
Nothing illustrated this mistaken right-wing identity more than a Fox News interview that Thor Halvorssen gave during the US presidential primaries. Fox News, a right wing conservative news channel, brought him in to discuss the democratic socialist platform of Bernie Sanders and why the then-presidential candidate’s platform was potentially harmful to the United States.
The Fox News anchor that conducted the interview was quickly confused by Thor Halvorssen’s retort. He calmly explained during prime time on one of the largest news networks in the world that socialism itself is not dangerous. What is dangerous, he continued to explain, is unilateral power with no checks and balances, and no separation of powers. He produced Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands as prime examples of how socialism can work well.
The Fox News anchor was stunned. It seemed that Fox News thought that Thor Halvorssen hated socialism because his father was a political prisoner of a socialist dictator. But it’s not the socialist part that is dangerous, as Thor would explain, it is the dictator part. It does not matter if you are a dictator on the right or the left. If you have unchecked, unilateral power and you abuse that power, you are in his crosshairs and will feel the brunt of the Human Rights Foundation.
Any Means Necessary
Halvorssen is the perfect leader for human rights activities in the 21st century. When Thor heard that popstar Nick Minaj was flying to Angola to perform a private concert for the country’s dictator, he quickly got to work. He wrote an open letter discouraging the popstar from performing the concert and listed the reasons why. He turned the whole world’s attention toward the inhumane criminal activities of the dictator of Angola with one viral letter. The man is making human rights activities very attractive for younger generations.
A Long History And A Bright Future
Thor Halvorssen has been involved with human rights advocacy his whole life. In 1999, he forced Lucent Technologies to adopt an anti-slave labor policy with a campaign on the floor of the company. The man used pop culture once again to shine a light on the human rights violations of North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un during the release of the movie The Interview. And, of course, he founded the Human Rights Foundation which advocates for human rights all around the world. Keep an eye on him, it will be invigorating to see where this civil liberties loving advocate takes his fight next.