Thor Halvorssen was born and brought up in Caracas. He is half-Venezuelan and half-Norwegian. He descends from a royal family. His paternal grandfather was the Norwegian king’s consul during the Second World War in Venezuela. His maternal grandfather was the first president of Venezuela. Thor took the path of his forebears and for him human rights and personal liberty is not something that ought to be on every table of discussion, but the table upon which every discussion rest.
The subject of human rights is not theoretical to the 39-year-old and president of Human Rights Foundation (HRF) based in New York. His father was arrested and torAmnesty tured in a Caracas prison after exposing government corruption and was only freed after International and other human rights advocates intervened in the case. His mother was shot during the anti-Hugo demonstration. Thor is not like any of his predecessors in the human-rights racket. He does not take a stereotypical activist sad-sack approach or cluck over the sins of American hegemony.
Fighting for human rights is not a walk in the park. Halvorssen has been beaten thoroughly. For instance, in 2010 he and a cameraman had traveled to Ho Chi Minh City to interview Thich Quang Do, a patriarch of the Unified Buddhist Church in Vietnam. Thich’s church had been banned and he was sentenced to house arrest for 28 years. Thor had a successful interview with Thich. However, on their way out Vietnamese authorities decided to use him as a punching bag. He was detained until he convinced the police that he was a Buddhist seeker. The cameraman also had a share of the cruelty as he had to sneak out of the place with the video card stuck in his rectum!
According to this Huffington Post article, HRF employees do not only talk about human rights but also gets dirty in the process. The Russian police for had beaten Garry Kasparov, the chair of HRF black-and-blue as he was protesting the guilty ruling of Pussy Riot. Thor doesn’t care about the political inclination of people working for him, as long as they have the same mission.
Thor founded HRF in 2005. He started advocating for civil rights in 1989 when he organized an opposition to the South African Apartheid rule. Thor has been featured in many prominent newspapers like The New York Times, Time Magazine, etc. as well as many television outlets such as CNN, Al-Jazeera, BBC, etc.
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