In 2005, the then 29 years old Thor Halvorssen started the Human Rights Foundation in New York. Halvorssen was born in Caracas to Norwegian dad and a Venezuelan mother. Thor hails from a lineage of great men and women who provided leadership to their people at times of need. His paternal grandfather was on the front line in defense of his motherland, Norway, during the World War II. His maternal grandparents, on the other hand, were leaders in Venezuela and the Latin America at large. His mother died by the bullet after leading an anti-Hugo Chaves mass action. His father was detained in one of the Caracas prisons and tortured for speaking against graft in government. This lineage explains Thor Halvorssen’s unrelenting spirit in fighting for the voiceless in the society.
Teething Challenges Encountered by Thor and HRF
Mr Thor is the kind of man who will stand fearlessly against an establishment for the sake of human rights. He can take on any authority without worrying if the numbers are in his favor or not. His journey with HRF hasn’t been easy though. The pioneer chairman of HRF, Mr. Václav Havel, died about five years ago while his replacement, Garry Kasparov, was arrested and jailed for criticizing Vladimir Putin’s government. Funding, on the other hand, has not been as easy to come by for HRF.
Thor Halvorssen hasn’t been lucky either. He has been arrested many instances for rubbing authorities the wrong way. He escaped jail by a whisker for interviewing Thich Quang Do, the leader of the then banned the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam.
Thor’s activism has earned him respect across the board. Global broadcasting outlets like The NYC Times and The Washington Post have featured him. Television media houses, such as Al-Jazeera, have also covered Thor’s story.
Everyone knows that there are places in the world and even in our own country where human rights are getting violated every single day. However, even in the age of social media where some of these events are even streamed live as they happen, the majority of the population simply offers their sympathy for the victims and never think about making any changes to the systems that have led to this oppression. Well, one activist who decided that it was time to try and make some real difference in the society is Thor Havlorssen. He has been involved in the fight for human rights for a very long time.
The kind of past that Thor comes from could be one of the reasons h got into activism. When he was a young man, he watched his own father get thrown in jail for protesting the plunder of tax payers’ money by the Venezuelan government. At the same time, he also watched his mother get shot during peaceful demonstrations against a corrupt government. The most stinging thing about the shooting incident was the fact that when it happened, the people that did it were known and yet it took a lot of time for them to get arrested. After the arrest, they were sentenced to serve three years of which they only served six months. These are the events that made him start crusading for social justice.
He formed his own organization, the Human Rights Movement that has head quarters in New York. Through this movement, he has been able to champion the rights of many from around the world. One of the events held by the organization has been equated to the Davos Conference that happens annually. He has been personally involved with different legal systems for his activism. There was a time he escaped narrowly from getting thrown in a jail in Vietnam for reporting about violence against the inmates. These and many more are the steps that Thor has been taking in making sure that he gets as many people as possible the justice they deserve. He is an inspiration to many.