Category Archives: Human Rights

Controversial Crusader for Human Rights, Thor Halverssen

His father was a political prisoner, his mother was shot by the regime of Hugo Chavez, and his first cousin is currently in prison in Venezuela. These are just a few of the factors that have provoked 37-year-old Thor Halvorssen to engage in the complex and challenging endeavor of defending global human rights. In 1989, he organized opposition to South African apartheid in London. In 1999, he co-founded the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and served as the Executive Director and CEO.

In response to his mother’s attack at a political protest in 2004, he founded the New York-based Human Rights Foundation, dedicated to the support of political prisoners and democracy in Latin America. Since the inception of the HRF, the organization has succeeded in managing the release of over seven prisoners of conscience. Thor Halvorssen is also the founder and CEO of the Oslo Freedom Forum, an annual conference hosting human rights activists from all over the world. Oslo was chosen for Norway’s neutrality, providing sanctuary for international delegates to plead their case on the world stage.

This last May, Hugo met at the Oslo Forum with Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng to provide advice. Thor Halvorssen mentioned the importance of actor Christian Bale, who had gone to China to negotiate Chen’s release. There were representatives from over 57 countries at the forum, drawing roughly 450 to listen to the daytime speeches.

Some compare Thor Halvorssen’s ideology to that of the anti-Soviet freedom movement. He is clean-cut, highly energetic, and speaks over four different languages fluently. Because of his continuous engagement in human rights activism, his relationship with his home country of Venezuela has not improved. He is still lauded with recognition for his diplomatic flare and salesmanship, particularly when it comes to approaching financial backers for his projects. While so many are preoccupied with maintaining the status quo, Mr. Halvorssen boldly crusades against authoritarian regimes to effect change.

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