One thing is clear as day in these modern times, some people are better in certain fields and perform better. Whether it is sports, politics or even in school, there are those of us who will go above the rest and become the best. This is also the case for human rights activism, one man has risen beyond the rest and has proven to be the champion. His name is Thor Halvorssen, and he is from Venezuela. Activism is not the only place he excels in; he is also a film director and lecturer. One film that he has been involved with is the Moon is Harsh Mistress. He has co-directed this movie with Bryan Singer.
He is known as the founder of Human Rights Foundation since the year 2005. During this time, this organization has helped fight against threats to democracy, slavery, and human trafficking. The organization has spoken for political prisoners is several countries such as Cuba, Venezuela, and Vietnam. Thor Halvorssen teaches on the issues of oppression at several institutions such as the Harvard School of Law and the United Nations General Assembly in New York. For his stand against oppression, Thor has even spoken to the British parliament about these issues. He has received praise from several media outlets such as the New York Times.
He also features on other media outlets to discuss threats to democracy and human trafficking. They include Al-Jazeera, BBC News, and Fox News. He has also featured in the Washington Post, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. In his many years of activism, he has worked with prominent human rights activists such as Havel Vaclav and Garry Kasparov.
In the United States, he has unveiled deals between dictators and top paid musicians such as 50 cents and Mariah Carrey. He also differs with several senators in the US Congress.
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.
According to a recent announcement, the Maven Network Incorporated has completed a transaction it had previously announced making it a publicly traded company. The CEO, James heckman and his co-founders presented the Seattle-based digital media network startup on its new platform. This was during the first ever channel partner conference held in Dallas last week to over 33 esteemed publishers. A good number of them communicated their intent to commence as “Founding Channel Partners”.
Thor Halvorssen’s Reaction
Thor Halvorssen, the Human Rights Foundation president reacted to the announcement stating that the vision was spectacular. He described the conference where top leaders cut from diverse interests and fields, some of which share opposing views and causes, stood together united on the need to have control over their platforms and audiences. Thor added that the experience was unique and the promised technology had the potential to expand the integrity and transparency level necessary for community interaction.
theMaven team of executives and engineers are experienced veterans from Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Scout Media, NFL, Rivals.com and Yahoo! The CTO and co-founder of theMaven, Ben Joldersma, described the new infrastructure as a big leap forward from the other network platforms of the past. He added that it was great for the network to see publishers validating their business model and design by their enthusiasm to join them.
About Thor Halvorssen
Thor Halvorssen is an advocate for human rights and film producer. New York Times described him as a “a champion of the underdog and the powerless”. His human rights advocacy started way back in 1989 when he was just an adolescent through organizing opposition to the South African apartheid. His background is Venezuelan and Norwegian. Thor was thrusted to full-time promotion of individual rights and due process soon after his father was taken as a political prisoner in Venezuela. He founded the Human Rights Foundation based in New York following his mother’s shooting at a political protest in 2004.
Human Rights Foundation is fully devoted to freeing political prisoners and promote democracy and tolerance in Latin America. Ever since it was founded, HRF has managed to secure the release of seven conscience prisoners, offered amicus briefs in key international human rights cases, produced evidence to Truth Commissions and published two books. The two books are based on the state responsibilities and individual rights. Thor is the CEO and founder of Oslo Freedom Forum, a spectacular human rights festival according to the Economist. He is the Patron to On Own Feet, a Children’s Peace Movement based in Prague.
In The Weekly Standard article titled “Troublemaker for Tyrants,” Matt Labash attempts to characterize the inscrutable founder of the Human Rights Foundation, Thor Halvorssen. As Labash and many others have found, Halvorssen does not lend himself so easily to characterization. Some superficial notes: he pops dozens of supplements, injects himself with hypodermic needles filled with growth hormones, and refuses to accept death as an option, opting instead for cryogenic sleep. These are neither here nor there, however.
His political alignments seem ambiguous, having notably donated the “largest contribution allowable” to Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, while also having financial ties to conservative foundations. He rejects the conservative label, calling himself a “classic liberal.”
Labash attempts to subvert these simple characterizations and opts instead to reveal Halvorssen’s deeper moral alignments. He relates much of Halvorssen’s background and upbringing: Thor grew up in a very wealthy house in Caracas, Venezuela. in what he called “the lap of luxury.” Thor says that his upbringing, though privileged, did teach him that he “shouldn’t be afraid of anything,” and “certainly shouldn’t be afraid of people.”
This spirit was reinforced in a revelatory instance of public protest, wherein college-age Thor and his uncle helped free his father from a Venezuelan prison, where he was being held as political prisoner. Thor says that this event “crystallized the idea of what it looks like when you actually stare into the abyss in a country with no rule of law.”
Thor’s fearless spirit growing up combined with this understanding of the greater scope of societal corruption seems to be what drives his seemingly incoherent political compass, as well as some of his more unconventional activist practices.
Labash relates one story of Halvorssen’s conflict with North Korea, where Halvorssen attempted to set free the minds of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea by sending balloons filled with “antiregime leaflets, cash, and entertainments.” This attempt was thwarted by unforeseen wind-changes, but Halvorssen remained unperturbed.
Halvorssen may be confusing, but he is most definitely passionate, which, in some cases, can make all the difference in the world.
Bernie Sanders is a democratic socialist. There is a lot of confusion about what exactly is democratic socialism and it seems the conservative leaning Fox News network like to define it on their own terms. So the network decided to bring in Thor Halvorssen, the founder of the Human Rights Foundation who is famous for exposing the corruption of dictators around the world. But the interview with Thor Halvorssen backfired and has become a viral video on social media that has spread like wildfire.
In the interview it seems that Fox News thought that Thor Halvorssen was against socialism and that they were caught offguard when the founder of the HRF said that democratic socialism can be a good thing. Thor Halvorssen then shifted the topic to dictators as if you were invited on the network to do so, but the hostess kept trying to steer the conversation back to why socialism is bad. She even brought up the socialist government of Venezuela that wrongfully imprisoned and tortured Thor Halvorssen’s father, an event that inspired Thor to found the human rights organization.
Thor Halvorssen then explained that some dictators choose to use socialism as a weapon to bully and exploit people. He blamed the problem on the dictators, not the form of government. Then he drops the backfiring bombshell on the hostess — she donated the maximum amount allowable to the Bernie Sanders campaign.
Thor Halvorssen explained that he’d rather have a democratic socialist become president than Hillary Clinton. Clinton, he claims, has taken donations from dictators around the world. He also says that the Republican front runner sympathized Vladimir Putin and that is unacceptable; the Human Rights Foundation cannot support any presidential candidate that supports, explicitly or implicitly, any dictator around the world.
He is careful to explain that he favors free-market capitalism with limited government interference, but the Bernie Sanders record is most in line with his beliefs and the beliefs of the Human Rights Foundation. In an interview apparently designed to bash Bernie Sanders Fox News achieved the opposite. They created a viral video clip that is used to support democratic socialism.