Thor Halvorssen is known for being a human rights advocate and film producer. When he was just a young child, he began advocating for human rights in 1989. He organized opposition to South African apartheid in London. Halvorssen’s background is Venezuelan and Norwegian. His father became a political prisoner, which led Halvorssen to become fully involved in the promotion of individual rights. After revealing government corruption while working as Venezuela’s drug czar, his father was beaten and tormented in a Caracas prison.
In 2004, his mother was shot in New York during a political protest and Thor Halvorssen then founded the New York-based Human Rights Foundation. HRF promotes tolerance and democracy in Latin America and is loyal to liberating political prisoners. They have secured the release of seven prisoners of conscience, provided evidence to Truth Commissions and have published two books on individual rights. He is also founder and CEO of the Oslo Freedom Forum, which is an annual festival for human-rights.
Thor had a man named Václav Havel serve as HRF’s chairman until he died in 2011, he was then replaced with Garry Kasparov who was a Russian chess grandmaster and political activist. A year later, Kasparov was carried off by Russian police and repeatedly beaten. He was sentenced two years in prison for singing an anti-Putin song. Kasparov is not the only one to have been beaten for the cause, Thor himself has been as well. In 2010, Thor and a cameraman traveled to Ho Chi Minh City to interview the patriarch of Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam. They were able to tape the interview, but on the way out Vietnamese authorities caught them and used Thor as a punching bag. HRF is a smaller human-rights organization, but their sights are set after big fish in order to make a difference in people’s lives.