You need to know only a little about Thor Halvorssen’s youth and young adulthood to understand how he became involved in human rights activism. His mother, Hilda Mendoza Denham was shot and wounded during a protest that started out peaceful but turned violent when Venezuela officials unexpectedly opened fire on the protestors. While she was one of twelve persons injured, one woman was killed. Additionally, when Halvorssen was a freshman in college, his dad was arrested while investigating the Medellin cartel for fraud and money laundering. He was held for nearly 3 months on trumped-up charges and nearly killed, though eventually released.
It was in 1999 that Thor became the first CEO and executive director of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). It was that same year that he led a campaign at Lucent Technologies that was aimed at stopping China from using slave labor to make Lucent products; China is known to imprison millions of its citizens in forced labor camps producing various consumer products. He proposed that China be required to certify that slave labor was not used in fabricating any of the company’s products. This effort met with at least some success.
It was these experiences and doubtless many others that led Halvorssen to create, and helm, the Human Rights Foundation. Incorporated in 2005, the HRF stated that its mission was to adopt the same motivating principle as the original human rights movement, that is,to oppose tryranny while championing self-determination. Headquartered in New York City, political prisoner luminaries such as Vladimir Bukovsky, Harry Wu and Elie Wiesel sit, or have sat, on its International Council. Watch Video Here.
Halvorssen is a frequent critic of Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni, for his nation’s imposition of the death penalty for homosexuality; he is no fan of Hugo Chavez either, citing Venezuela’s anti-Semitic practices and policies. Halvorssen even exposed the fact that celebrities Jennifer Lopez, 50 Cent, and Mariah Carey, to name just a few, had accepted money from dictators. Halvorssen at LinkedIn .
As a producer, Halvorssen uses the medium of film to shed light on violations of human rights the world over. The Moving Picture Institute was founded by Halvorssen and he is currently producing a film adaptation of The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein.