Driven by the Heart: Thor Halvorssen’s Story & Fight for Human Rights

Human rights is sometimes a theme or blip in some people’s conversations, but these rights mean something else to those who understand what the absence of them could cause. A person that truly understands human rights, like Thor Halvorssen, also knows just how important it is to be dedicated to it.

Getting Personal With Thor Halvorssen

One could say that Thor has very big shoes to fill because he is a descendant of Simon “The Liberator” Bolivar or because he is also related to the first president of Venezuela, Cristobal Mendoza. But the truth is the only shoes that Thor cares about are his own. Yes, Halvorssen has seen the horrors that dictatorships can create. In fact, his father was imprisoned and tortured by Hugo Chavez’s people. This happened because his father exposed a major link between the Venezuelan government and drug cartels. Halvorssen’s mother was shot in an anti-Chavez demonstration.

Some have called Halvorssen a conservative because he has sided to the right of many left-wing officials in Southern America. But the truth is he has only sided with the people who were being oppressed. Halvorssen understands politics in a more human way. To him, an oppressive dictator is wrong no matter his party affiliation.

It was this burning love for people, for justice, and freedom that fueled Halvorssen to reach out to the Human Rights Foundation. He became president of the organization not too long after joining. Halvorssen is one of the youngest serving presidents of the organization, and he is also one of the most daring participants.

Thor–not long after joining the group–took an expedition to Vietnam. His mission took Thor to Ho Chi Minh City because he wanted to interview the patriarch of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam. This particular church had been banned by the oppressive government for decades. This proved to be a dangerous expedition, as he was caught by Vietnamese authorities. Halvorssen was arrested and beaten before he was able to fool the authorities into believing that he was nothing more than someone seeking Buddhism.

The Human Rights Foundation has definitely taken a more active role in defending the peoples of the world who are oppressed no matter what party or political ideology. And this is because–for Halvorssen–human rights are fundamental.

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