Thor Halvorssen Hopes to Inspire Future Generations of Human Rights Activists

Inspiring future generations of human rights activists is a part of the career of Thor Halvorssen he has become associated with as Thor has headed some of the most popular human rights events and initiatives available. Halvorssen believes his work with a number of charitable groups and his own Oslo Freedom Forum is bringing many new members to the activism community as he has brought his work to the attention of the mainstream media and popular culture commentators.

There are many aspects of the career of Thor Halvorssen that are impressive to all who understand them, including his work with the Oslo Freedom Forum that has become the go to event for all members of the human rights community. Founded in 2009, the Oslo Freedom Forum has brought together a number of different people who have an interest in the human rights community, including politicians, Nobel peace prize recipients, journalists, and former political prisoners. Speeches and talks from the Oslo Freedom Forum have now been uploaded to the Internet and can be viewed by those from around the world who feel they would like to learn more about different aspects of human rights abuses. The work of Thor Halvorssen at these events is not limited to finding the best speakers and attendees but includes the chance to explore the relationships and links that can be formed between celebrities, reporters, and activists to build new relationships that will promote the work of different groups around the world.

The world of human rights activism can take many forms and the need to make sure as many people are aware of the issues facing the world is something Thor Halvorssen has taken to heart in his own work and the patronage he provides for charitable groups. Among the groups he has worked with are the Children’s Peace Movement that looks to form links between young people in traditionally peaceful areas of the world and those living in violent environments.

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Thor Halvorssen’s Mission

Thor Halvorssen’s interest in human rights began at a young age. His first mission was organizing opposition to South Africa’s apartheid government. Halvorssen, half Norwegian and Venezuelan, comes by his interest in human rights naturally. His father spent time as a political prisoner in Venezuela, and his mother was shot while participating in a political protest.

It was his mother’s experience that led Thor Halvorssen to found the Human Rights Foundation in 2005. This New York based organization is dedicated to freeing political prisoners and promoting democracy and tolerance in Latin America. Since its inception, The Human Rights Foundation has worked to secure the release of prisoners, submitted amicus, or friend of the court, briefs in international human rights cases, provided evidence in Truth Commissions, and published two books on individual rights and responsibilities of the state.

With 12 employees, the Human Rights Foundation is not a particularly large organization. These employees, however, are remarkable in their willingness to get dirty in their fight for human rights. Their chairman was beaten by Russian police during a protest over the Pussy Riot verdict, and Halvorssen’s himself was beaten by Vietnamese authorities while his cameraman smuggled film from a Buddhist monastery in 2010. This Business Journals article mentions that Thor Halvorssen stated that the Human Rights Foundation has no political leanings to the left or right, but its goal is to tear down tyranny on every front.

Halvorssen is also the founder and CEO of the Oslo Freedom Forum, which is an annual gathering of people interested in and fighting for human rights that attract people from around the world. He is also the patron of On Our Feet, a children’s peace movement based in Prague.

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Yeonmi Park fighting for human rights in South Korea

If you haven’t heard the name Yeonmi Park in the news, you probably will. She is the young defector and activist from North Korea who fights for human rights and represents and speaks for people who are being controlled by a dictator taken advantage of by countries that simply don’t care about their people. At just twenty-one, she has quite a history already. She is fighting for people who are asking for freedom and simple human rights.

Yeonmi Park is currently living in Seoul, South Korea, and is writing a book about her life for Penguin books. She is speaking out about the unfairness of the way people are being treated and fighting for criminal justice in North Korea and other countries as well. She speaks on several television shows about the repression in North Korea and how she grew up not being able to speak or express her thoughts or feelings. She tells the story of her father being arrested and sent to a labor camp and how she and her mother left their home to try to find freedom away from North Korea. She speaks of the tyranny of living under the rule of Kim Jong Un and the poor, struggling people of North Korea and the poverty that twenty-four million people live there every day.

She says that under his rule they are taught that the world they live in is the best, that their country is superior over all other countries. They are taught other countries are evil, impure, sickening and very dangerous. She says every facet of their life is controlled, they are told what to think, what they are allowed to watch, and taught in classes that are strict. She says her future was doomed because her father was a prisoner of the country. Even knowing that the guards are told to shoot anyone who tries to leave the country, she and her mother found someone to help get them out of the country when she was just thirteen. When they reached China, a man tried to attack and rape Yeonmi, but her mom stepped in to protect her and was raped instead and they were then sold to human traffickers.

She was offered a deal to become a man’s mistress and in return he would buy her mother and father so she could see them again, so she agreed. Her father was soon discovered to have colon cancer and died. She said she had to bury him in the middle of the night because there was no one to have a funeral with because she was all alone. She decided she must leave China so she could have freedom and dignity and be treated like human beings should be treated so they trekked across the desert with several other people to freedom in sub-zero weather. She says these things have been going on for seventy years with a second generation dictator running their country. They are hoping with so many people leaving the country and speaking out about the atrocities that it will put pressure on the ruler to change.

When asked what she got from this experience she said simply “I now own myself, I am not owned by a ruler, a master, or a country. I have a voice, I have freedom and the powerful freedom to speak my thoughts and feelings . I can tell people how the people of North Korea are dying to get food to eat and dying for freedom and how young girls that are fourteen and fifteen are being sold into slavery for $200. How these people deserve to live like everyone else in the world and have simple human rights”