Category Archives: Human Rights Advocacy

Thor Halvorssen Looks For Ways Of Improving The Lives Of People Around The World

Thor Halvorssen has made himself a major part of the human rights activist community over recent years due to his willingness to do whatever is necessary to get the issues of concern into the public eye. The founder of the Human Rights Foundation was born in Venezuela and educated in the U.S. where he was studying when his first interaction with the human rights community took place; Halvorssen’s diplomat father was illegally imprisoned and tortured when he uncovered widespread corruption and criminality among members of Venezuela’s law enforcement community in conjunction with illegal drug gangs across the nation. Watch Video Here .

In an attempt to free his father, Thor Halvorssen helped head an Amnesty International campaign that inspired him to become even more involved in the human rights activist community. After becoming frustrated with the focus on areas of the world Thor sees as providing a free and democratic life of many major human rights groups Halvorssen decided to form the Human Rights Foundation in 2005; in a bid to set his own foundation apart from the traditional human rights groups the graduate of the University of Pennsylvania developed a small team of workers and built a board filled with former political prisoners and respected former political leaders. Many believe the decision to appoint Russian political opposition leader Gary Kasparov by Thor Halvorssen was designed to keep the pressure on President Vladimir Putin who had clashed with the Human Rights Foundation over the treatment of political artists “Pussy Riot”.

The Human Rights Foundation works in a range of different areas of the world in a bid to bring democracy and freedom to all people living in closed societies; Halvorssen has played a key role in publicizing the plight of those living under the dictatorship of North Korea through the Hack North Korea event and a series of drops of material into the socialist country to bring western culture to the people of the nation. One of the most high-profile events undertaken by the Human Rights Foundation was a 2015 balloon drop of copies of “The Interview” into North Korea, the Hollywood movie that caused controversy for its depiction of the North Korean dictator.

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Thor Halvorrsen Takes on Dictators Around the World

Thor Halvorssen has a long history of fighting for the rights of people who have been oppressed and abused by their governments. Thor is not your typical human rights activist. For Thor Halvorssen human rights abuses are a very personal affair. Thor’s father was imprisoned and tortured in Venezuela on trumped up charges as a result of his investigations into government corruption. Thor worked with Amnesty International to get his father released from prison. In addition to the government abuse suffered by his father, Thor’s mother was shot and wounded by Venezuelan government security forces while she was attending a peaceful protest in 2004.

Thor began advocating for human rights when he was still an adolescent. In 1989, while living in London, Thor Halvorssen began organizing opposition against apartheid in South Africa. In 1999, Halvorsen became the director and CEO of the Foundation For Individual Rights in Education. FIRE associated with other groups such as the Heritage Foundation to promote liberty and to protect the right of free speech. Halvorssen is a strong believer in the right of free speech for everyone regardless of whether they are from the right or left side of the political spectrum.

Thor Halvorssen founded the Human Rights Foundation in 2004. The New York-based HRF is dedicated to fighting for the rights of political prisoners around the world. The HRF places pressure on cruel dictators and despots around the world by publicizing and putting a spotlight on their human rights abuses. Since its creation, the HRF has secured the release of at least 7 political prisoners. The HRF has also exposed celebrities who have made money from dealing with cruel and corrupt authoritarians. Hilary Swank, Mariah Carey and Jennifer Lopez are among the celebrities that have taken money from dictators.

Thor also promotes human rights through his work as a film producer. Thor has produced several movies that focus on human rights issues. Thor produced the Hammer and Tickle,  which showed how the Russians used humor and jokes as a way of telling the truth since free speech was suppressed by the Soviet regime.

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Thor Halvorssen’s Passion: Human Rights

Thor Halvorssen, who is otherwise referred to as Leonardo Halvorssen Mendoza, was born in Venezuela in 1976. He is a well-respected human rights advocate. His advocacy is in individual rights, civil liberties, democracy and public interest advocacy. He started The Oslo Freedom Forum, which is an annual come together of human rights champions. The Economist describes the gathering as a spectacular event which comes close to the equivalent of forums such as the Davos gathering, but with a human rights agenda. Thor Halvorssen is president of human rights foundation. This organization devotes itself to the freedom’s and rights of people. He serves in a Czech-based peace movement for children: On Own Feet. He is the patron of the same project. He founded Moving Picture Institute.

Background

His father was an ambassador for the government’s anti-narcotic campaign. He also served as a special investigator at the senate commission of Venezuela. Thor attended the Pennsylvania University graduating phibeta kappa as well as Magna cun Laude in undergraduate and the graduate degree. He specialized in History and Political Science.

Parents Struggle

His father was arrested when Thor was still an undergraduate student. The dad was arrested for allegations of fraud and money laundering. It was an incarceration of close to 3 months, a period that saw him beaten, tortured and almost killed in jail. He was also charged with another count: terrorism. Thor, fearing for the life of the dad, engaged in a campaign to have him freed. Amnesty International was involved leading to the release of the dad after being found innocent. Later, he was made director of International Society for Human Rights Pan-American Committee.

Human rights and political inclusion seem to have run deep in Thor’s family. The mother was shot during peaceful protests. During these protests, many protesters were shot at and wounded by the Venezuelan police. The actions of these militant men were captured and aired on television leading to the apprehension of the shooters. They were tried at first, but their sentences were revoked. A short time later these gunmen were retired and each got a three-year jail time.

Recognition

Halvorseen was awarded the Sol Feinstone Award by his former university for his efforts in human rights activism. In 2010, Thor received the Silver Medal from the Romanian President: as a sign of appreciation for the work he has devoted his life and energy. He continues to champion human rights in his country and across nations.

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The Active Involvement of Thor Halvorssen in the Human Rights Advocacy

Thor Leonardo Halvorssen Mendoza is the founder of Human Rights Foundation and Oslo Freedom Forum. He draws his interests in human right advocacy from the wrongful imprisonment and torture of his father in a Venezuelan jail. The government securities also gunned down and wounded his mother in a peaceful public gathering in Venezuela. The two incidences have contributed in Thor’s interests in protecting the human rights in the United States and other countries. He is involved in the advocacy of individual and civil rights, public policy and interest, as well as fighting for democracy in the country.

The release of his father

In 1993, Thor Halvorssen led a campaign that sought the safety and release of his father from jail. He earned great support from numerous human rights advocates, public figures, and international organizations such as Amnesty International and International Society for Human Rights. The campaign succeeded with the release of his father on the Christmas Eve. Thor graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in History, Political Science, International Relations, and Romance Languages. At the University, he served as the legal advisor for the students charged at the university’s judicial system.

Career Information

The Venezuelan-based human rights activist and film producer began his activism in London. He led people in opposition to the South African apartheid in 1989. Thor Halvorssen was the previous CEO of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education from 1999 to 2004. He currently serves as the President of Human Rights Foundation and the CEO and President of Oslo Freedom Forum.

The Human Rights Foundation

Human Rights Foundation started with the aim of protecting the rights and liberties of the Venezuelan citizens. He founded the company in 2005 after the shooting of his mother in the political protest. Additionally, the company keeps the information about the countries led in a dictatorial way, for example, North Korea, and Angola. In the past, he has used this information to address the various oppressions that are happening in the world.

Relationship with the Media

In 2005, he founded the Moving Picture Institute (MPI) in his quest to address the various social injustices in the world. Thor Halvorssen believes that media is the most efficient medium through which people get to learn lessons on their rights. The institute has given grants to filmmakers and helped in the production of more than 30 films. Thor has appeared on different television outlets such as CNN, HBO, Fox News Channel, al-Jazeera, BBC News and Bloomberg among others.

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