Thor Halvorssen may have been raised within the Venezuelan elite but he comes from a long line of human rights warriors. His grandfather Oystein, the Norwegian monarchy’s consul in Venezuela, stood off a Nazi invasion during World War II using the Norwegian merchant fleet and his own two fists. Thor’s father was imprisoned and tortured after uncovering government corruption during his time as Venezuela’s drug czar. Thor’s mother, a descendant of the first president of Venezuela, was shot at an anti-Hugo Chavez demonstration and Thor’s cousin is a political prisoner in a Venezuelan jail. Read more: Thor Halvorssen | Facebook
Thor’s clan has made activism in the fight for human rights and against dictatorships the family business. However, it is 40-year-old Thor who has taken the family business global. Born in the Gen Y/Millennial cusp, Thor’s world view is influenced by the greater connectivity that internet communication has provided to recent generations. Halvorssen’s global stance against human rights violations appeals to millennials who view dictatorships a half a world away as a more imminent threat than older, less connected generations have.
In 2005, Thor Halvorssen launched the Human Rights Foundation whose mission is “to ensure that freedom is both preserved and promoted around the world.” HRF initiatives include campaigning for the release of political prisoners; educating information-starved societies; providing seminars on human rights; producing films, videos, and scholarly analyses; and releasing high-impact media campaigns – all with the goal of raising awareness and building support for individual rights across the globe. Learn more about Thor Halvorssen: https://www.linkedin.com/in/halvorssen
The HRF has hosted the Oslo Freedom Forum in Oslo, Norway and in college campuses throughout the U.S. via satellite annually since 2009. At the Oslo Freedom Forum, guest speakers give talks on human rights issues around the world. Participants have included prisoners of conscience, heads of state, Nobel Prize winners, and other public figures.
According to Crunchbase, Thor Halvorssen can most often be found with his feet on the ground fighting against the human rights violations that keep him up at night. Most recently, he has been working to get information to the closed society of North Korea led by totalitarian dictator Kim Jong Un.
Utilizing the HRF’s program, Flash Drives for Freedom, Thor Halvorssen collects donated flash drives and purchases retail flash drives to supply to North Korean defectors in South Korea. These flash drives are loaded with films, books, and internet content that is used to send “information, culture, truth, and knowledge” back to the “families, friends, and neighbors” of North Korean defectors.