Human Rights Foundation (HRF) founder, Thor Halvorssen has a long history of activism and has become one of the most recognizable fighters for human rights around the globe. Given his family tree, it is no wonder that Halvorssen has gravitated towards activism.
Thor Halvorssen was born in Venezuela to activists parents. But his activist lineage goes back even further. His paternal grandfather was a council to the King of Norway in Venezuela during WW II and reportedly got into an altercation with a few Nazis during his tenure.
His mother is a direct descendant of the first president of Venezuela as well as Simon Bolivar, the military leader who helped Venezuela gain its independence from Spain.
The Halvorssen clan has been fighting tyrants and dictators for generations. And they have paid the price for dissent. Halvorssen’s father was thrown in prison after exposing corruption in the Venezuelan government. His mother was shot during an anti-Chavez rally. Even his cousin, Leopoldo Lopez, is being held as a political prisoner for standing up to Hugo Chavez, the one-time despotic president of Venezuela.
Thor Halvorssen is no stranger to governmental persecution and violence. He has repeatedly been detained and roughed up by law enforcement in several countries. Most recently, he was detained and searched after interviewing ThichQuang Do, the leader of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam. Do has been under house arrest for 28 years as the government has banned the church.
Halvorssen was arrested and “aggressively” interviewed until he convinced authorities that he was merely a Buddhist convert who was only seeking spiritual instruction from Do.While so many activists today are content with signing an online petition and sharing a hashtag on social media, it is Halvorssen and HRF who are getting their hands dirty, bringing the fight directly to tyrants and dictators all over the world.
Halvorssen founded HRF in 2005 and has been guiding it to fight for the rights of citizens all over the world. Their main focus has always been to protect and promote human rights for every person, with a special focus on closed societies like North Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan.