There are not many human rights activists who can look to their own personal experiences as inspiration for the battles and hurdles they face over the course of their career as an activist. The Venezuelan born film producer and activist Thor Halvorssen is an exception to this rule as he has developed his own position in the human rights activism community after finding inspiration in a series of family events that saw his parents both denied their human rights at the hands of the government of their home country.
Thor Halvorssen has been a major part of the human rights community for many years after leading a campaign for Amnesty International to free his father from incarceration that was seen by world leaders as unlawful. Halvorssen’s father spent 74 days in confinement and faced torture and the threat of death because of his position as the lead investigator of the Venezuelan illegal drug industry; the father of Thor Halvorssen had uncovered widespread corruption in the Venezuelan law enforcement community that prompted his arrest without charge.
After leading the campaign to free his father and living through the shooting of his mother during an anti government rally, Thor Halvorssen joined a number of the world’s leading human rights groups without ever feeling he was achieving as much as was possible; eventually, Thor established his own Human Rights Foundation and set out to change the way activism is conducted around the world. The Human Rights Foundation has achieved a large amount, including securing the freedom of many political prisoners based on the work of a small team of twelve human rights experts.
For Thor Halvorssen the need to bring human rights to those who do not have or understand them has become a major part of his life, even as he searches for more success as a film producer. The leadership of the Human Rights Foundation has recently been handed on to Gary Kasparov, former chess champion and political opponent of Russian leader Vladimir Putin who Thor Halvorssen has backed in his fight to bring democracy to Russia.