Thor Halvorssen is not your typical activist. He does not spend his time creating hashtags for social media nor does he jockey for airtime on cable news. Halvorssen dedicates his time to fighting tyrants and dictators around the globe.
Halvorssen is president of the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) and has spent his adult life in the pursuit of freedom for citizens of repressive regimes. While many so-called activists are jetting from one news studio to the next, Halvorssen is physically confronting dictatorial governments.
In a recent trip to Vietnam to interview Thich Quang Do, the head of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam, Halvorssen was arrested and detained. Quang Do had been under house arrest for over 28 years when Halvorssen went to see him.
Halvorssen is not a political animal the way so many activists are today. He opposes left-wing despots as much as he does right-wing ones. His opposition to Hugo Chavez could be seen as part of the family business. His father was jailed and tortured in a Venezuelan prison after he exposed corruption in the government. In addition, his mother was shot at an anti-Chavez rally. On top of that, his cousin is currently sitting in a Venezuelan jail as a political prisoner.
And while most of the social justice activists today are lining up to have their picture taken with celebrities, Halvorssen and HRF are exposing those same celebs who take millions are dollars to perform for dictators. In a much-publicized battle, Halvorssen pleaded with rapper Nicki Minaj to cancel her concert for Angolan dictator Jose Eduardo dos Santos.
Halvorssen describes himself as a “classic liberal” and only cares about promoting and protecting human rights around the globe. The political leanings of a dictator matter little to him. The work he and HRF do is what is important.
The Human Rights foundation was founded in 2005 and is based in New York City. Halvorssen guides the organization to promote democracy and to ensure that freedom is preserved throughout the world. Thore would-be activist would do well to emulate Halvorssen if they truly want to make a difference in the world and not just pad their resume and rub shoulders with celebrities.