Thor Halvorssen, a Venezuelan-Norwegian who runs the Oslo Freedom Forum, has a genuinely deep engagement in the complex politics of global human rights. This deep involvement has put him at the epicenter of international conflicts and has also made him one of the most perplexing people in the human rights activism arena.
He heads the Human Rights Foundation, in New York, and his goals are quite literal. He wants to combat oppressive regimes globally, even if that means freeing activists from their own homelands, creating campaigns to free prisoners or inviting nonconformists and journalists to his Foundation’s yearly forum, in its fifth year. Learn more about Thor Halvorssen: http://www.weeklystandard.com/troublemaker-for-tyrants/article/899824
The conference is held in Norway, where his family hails from. His grandfather moved his whole family to Venezuela as the King’s consul and became a Venezuelan representative. The conference had 450 attendees, with over 50 countries represented. The Oslo Freedom Forum has been described as an “internationalist networking party where dissidents trade tips on overthrowing authoritarian regimes”.
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Halvorssen was born in Venezuela. His mother was a descendent of Simon Bolivar and his father, also named Thor, was a senior aide to President Carlos Andres Perez Rodriguez. In 1993, his father fell from grace and found himself locked up on charges of money-laundering. He was also accused of planning a series of bombings the year prior. Although Thor denies it, it has been said that his father was a CIA informant. Thor maintains that his father was an ambassador against drugs and his name was dragged through the mud by Pablo Escobar’s people, who wanted to silence him.
While his father fought his battles, Thor went to college in the U.S. and found ways to cross paths with influential American and international figures. He soon proved himself to be a worldly man, regardless of his age, and he had a firm grasp of worldly politics and cultures. His earliest political involvements included mounting a campaign with Amnesty International to free his father from prison. His relationship with Venezuela has not healed since.
Since the mid-2000s, Thor Halvorssen has focused on his work with the Human Rights Foundation. He is a determined man, smart enough not to let his ego get in the way of doing the right thing. His boldness allows him to go places others would not dare in order to accomplish his crusade against authoritarian regimes.