They say that all it takes for a person to become different is one traumatizing event in their life. Well, for Thor Havlorssen, a few events came together and shaped his path towards becoming the activist that he is for human rights. Thor is Venezuelan and Norwegian, he claims that he is a child of two nations but he loves the entire humanity. His father is the one that was of Norwegian descent while his mother was from Venezuela.
When he was a young boy, Thor watched his father protesting about the plunder that was taking place at the Mendela Castle. He was arrested by the government and mistreated grossly. Then, even before the emotional wounds left by this event had healed, his mother was shot while taking part in peaceful demonstrations against the government of the place. What irked him most about the case was the fact that his mother and fellow protestors had not been breaking the law in any way, yet when the known shooters were arrested and charged in a court of law, they were sentenced to serve three years, of which they only did six months.
These are the events that made him realize that a lot was going wrong in the realm of social justice. He started his activism when he was young. He established his NGO, the Human Rights Foundation to deal with some of the serious cases of human rights violations. The annual event that is held by hi group is so massive that people call it the Davos Conference of human rights. He has gotten in trouble many times with the law and other groups for his efforts. For instance, there was a time he narrowly escaped arrest from Vietnam. He had gone to the cells to talk to victims of human rights violations. The situation was so bad that hi camera man had to hide the footage of the entire ordeal in his person.
Thor says that he is not a person that respects race or imagine that some are better than others. He claims that as long as a person is fighting the same course as he, he respects them.
Human rights activist Thor Halvorssen works tirelessly to relieve human suffering around the world. As founder of the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) he has been involved in promoting basic human freedoms especially in closed and dictatorial governments. His latest efforts have been focused on North Korea.
HRF focuses on human rights issues that other activist organizations like Amnesty International often overlook. It focuses its resources on dictatorships rather than spending a great deal of effort on democratic societies like the United States. Thor believes that while countries like the United States could improve, they are not in need of a major overhaul.
Thor is not afraid of getting his hands dirty and frequently puts himself at risk in his efforts to save others. He recalls an occasion where he sneaked into a closed monastery in China after the occupant had been on house arrest for the last 28 years. He and his assistant were arrested by the government when they tried to leave. Thor earned his freedom back after he convinced the officers that he had gone inside for spiritual counseling. Thor often goes out into the field himself to get the work done. His visits over the years have placed him on hit lists of various governments. This does not daunt him but instead makes him feel more empowered than ever.
Thor Halvorssen does not approach the issue of human rights from merely an academic perspective. His own family has suffered greatly at the hands of dictators around the world. His father spent years as a political prisoner. His mother was murdered by the Venezuelan government while peacefully demonstrating against the current Supreme Leader. His first cousin currently suffers in prison for alleged crimes stemming from political activities that democratic countries like the United States would deem perfectly legal.
Thor Halvorssen has been influential in the private sector as well. He successfully lobbied Lucent Technologies to stop producing products essentially manufactured with slave labor in countries like China. He spearheads the HRF and promotes its funding by soliciting private donations from inherently free countries like Great Britain. He promotes peaceful interracial political activities in poor countries through the Children’s Peace Movement. Thor always seeks new opportunities to promote peace and eliminate global human suffering.
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