Standing up against tyranny is something Thor Halvorssen knows all about and does quite eloquently. The founder of the New York City-based Human Rights Foundation (HRF) will not stay silent when it comes to tyrants who mess with a person’s human rights and individual liberty.
The University of Pennsylvania and Wharton School of Business graduate spoke recently with the WeeklyStandard.com to talk about HRF and how he labels himself in a world of political obsession.
Thor Halvorssen comes from a background steeped in human rights activism. His father was tortured in a Venezuelan prison after revealing government corruption in his role as the country’s drug czar. His mother was shot during an anti-Hugo Chavez demonstration, and his first cousin is jailed at the moment as a political prisoner in Venezuela.
Thor Halvorssen is a take action kind of man, holding respect for the dissidents and defectors of the world who make life difficult for regimes that control a person’s every move. He’s been held against his will and beaten in the name of freedom, most famously for an incident occurring in 2010, when Thor Halvorssen and a cameraman had traveled to Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City. The pair were there to interview and record moments with Thich Quang Do, the head of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam. His church had been banned, and Mr. Quang Do held under house arrest for 28 years.
According to Forbes, Thor Halvorssen says he had sneaked into the monastery and procured the taped interview. On their way out, he and his cameraman were discovered and Thor Halvorssen detained. Luckily, the cameraman slipped out a side door with the video card safely hidden. Meantime, Vietnamese authorities allegedly beat Thor Halvorssen black and blue, only allowing him to leave when he convinced them he was there seeking to become a Buddhist.
Politically-speaking, many have tried to define Thor Halvorssen as a right winger, but the HRF founder sees himself differently. Thor Halvorssen says he’s a “classical liberal” in the John Stuart Mill tradition. Mill has often been called, “the most influential English-speaking philosopher of the nineteenth century.”
More information for Thor Halvorssen: