Thor Halvorssen is the type of person to be working late at night, working to eliminate worldwide government corruption. Thor Halvorssen was born in Caracas, Venezuela to Norwegian and Venezuelan parents. Most of his primary school was in Venezuela and he went to University of Pennsylvania to obtain his undergrad and postgraduate degrees in Political Science and history. He is fluent in multiple languages including American English, in which he speaks flawlessly without any accent. His family roots are very affluent as well. His grandfather was a Norwegian ambassador that worked in the consulate of Caracas. His mother has genetic roots with the South American revolutionaries Cristóbal Mendoza and Simón Bolívar. She was an active protester of the Hugo Chavez regime and was murdered by police during a rally. His father worked for the Venezuelan government for years until he was imprisoned and tortured for trying to expose government corruption.
Thor launched the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) in the year 2005. His organization protested the imprisonment of Pussy Riot in 2012. The chairman of HRF at the time, Garry Kasparov, was imprisoned during their involvement in the protests. He was captured by the media being battered by police and carried away.
In 2010, Thor and his cameraman traveled to Vietnam to interview the head of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam. The purpose of the interview was to expose the oppression of the religious in Vietnam. The authorities arrested them but they still managed to smuggle the memory card out.
Thor and the HRF are very critical of many corrupt South American regimes. He is often criticized of being a Right Ringer since most South American governments are Left Wing. Thor himself claims to be a Classic Liberal, which is more comparable to a Libertarian if anything. Thor does not care about the political affiliation of his enemies nor his employees. He only cares about combating and exposing corruption. Thor’s regular staff members are a mere 12 employees of diverse backgrounds.
The HRF hosts the annual Oslo Freedom Forum. The forum has attracted many popular supporters like Peter Thiel and Sergey Brin. The forum is popularly nicknamed “The Gathering of Heroes“.
Thor Halvorssen is a member of the Human Rights Foundation and believes in some instances that Socialism can contribute to Human Rights violations. He believes that in some cases such as a Dictatorship, Totalitarian government, and other cases where corruption is present that socialism can mask and encourage human rights violations and crimes against citizens of a country. Thor Halvorssen was explaining that many people consider Socialism, Communism, and Marxism are the same political philosophy, which is absolutely not true.His objection to socialism is that it is easy to mask other selfish or illegal political practices behind the mask of a socialist political party. For instance he uses the example he used the Venezuelan government practice of setting prices which in turn caused a shortage of supplies for the people of Venezuela. This lack of supplies created a humanitarian crisis.
Thor Halvorssen has his reservations about Socialism; he did however contribute the highest amount allowable to the Bernie Sanders campaign. He believes that although socialism may not be the answer for the country that he is the most qualified candidate as opposed to the other presidential candidates from the Democratic and Republican sides. he feels that the Democratic presidential front-runner has taken funds from some of the most tyrannical and oppressive governments in the world. Thor Halvorssen’s father was a political prisoner in Venezuela and his mother was shot by Hugo Chávez’s men. Therefore, Thor Halvorssen vehemently opposes these types of dictatorships. He would rather see a Democratic Socialist in the White House than someone who takes money from Dictatorships.
With one visit to the Human Rights Foundation’s (HRF) website, you quickly view the extensive span of their involvement in human rights across the globe. From calling on Turkey to free dissident journalists Can Dundar and Erdem Gul who have been jailed on arbitrary charges to condemning Ecuador’s cyber-attacks on the free press watchdog organization Fundamedios, to supporting Cuban artist El Sexto, in his first American art exhibit. All these positions are in line with the organizations root missions to expose the unfair treatment of dictatorial regimes, raise human rights awareness through strategic and coordinated activities and to conduct on-the-ground outreach to third country populations by supplying education, food, medicine and other humanitarian aid.
The Human Rights Foundation is the brain child of Venezuelan human rights activist and film producer, Thor Halvorssen. He has been rightly described as “a champion of the underdogs and the powerless” by the New York Times. Even as an adolescent growing up in London, Mr. Halvorssen found himself protesting against South African apartheid in 1989. After his father was arrested and jailed in Venezuela, he began a full time campaign for due process and individual rights. No doubt, further impetus was gained after his mother, Hilda Mendoza, was shot while participating in political protest. She survived and Mr. Halvorssen galvanized his efforts by launching HRF in 2004 in New York City.
Thor Halvorssen attended University of Pennsylvania, his families alma mater. While there, he became editor of the school newspaper, Red and Blue, an alternative, conservative editorial paper. While enjoying the experiences which come with college life, Mr. Halvorssen mingled with other students from around the world and also found ways to achieve introductions to influential international and American public figures. Surely these meetings and conversations helped shape him for his upcoming battles with the Venezuelan government, where he with the help of Amnesty International ran a successful campaign that freed his father after 74 days of imprisonment.
Since its inception, the HRF has successfully helped garner the release of seven prisoners of conscience and has published books educating the public on human rights and the responsibility of the government. Thor Halvorssen has also founded the Oslo Freedom Forum, an annual gathering of leading human rights activists from around the world. Unlike other forums, where panel discussions or lead speakers take the podium, the Oslo meetings are conducted in a casual setting, bringing donors, journalists and future activists together in a community of sharing.