When it comes to spreading freedom from beyond the comforts and joy of our living rooms, you might think that task is primarily carried out by soldiers and mercenaries. But that would be incorrect as one of the most important leaders in the fight is a civilian who believes in the freedom of speech and dissemination of information as some of the most important weapons against dictatorship. that leader is Thor Halvorssen, an international civil rights activist and founder of the Human Rights Foundation (HRF). For over 20 years Halvorssen has been working with protest groups and defectors to expose dictatorships through demonstrations and smuggling operations.
Understanding Halvorssen who is certainly a surprising and sometimes complicated individual may be best done by knowing his background. His mother’s family comes from Norway while his father is Venezuelan, an unusual ethnic mix but both sides of the family have been brought together by their outspokenness against oppressive regimes. Most notably his father was detained by corrupt officials when he found out about government-sponsored drug operations, and his mother was a victim of a shooting though she survived during an anti-Chavez demonstration. Halvorssen himself has been detained on suspicions several times while visiting Asian nations and finding out about religious persecutions.
Halvorssen does make appearances on television networks including Fox News, CNN, Russia Today and several other news organizations, but he often likes to remain under the radar because he never knows what freedom expedition he might be undertaking next. Some of his most notable anti-tyranny adventures include a 1989 organized event in London in which South Africans demonstrated against the apartheid, and then several prison release operations including that of Bahrain’s Ali Abdulemam. He also has had dissidents appointed to serve as leaders of HRF including Garry Kasparov, a Russian spokesperson for freedom who protested the arrest of a Russian rock band that had played anti-Putin music.
Halvorssen uses several means to get out his message such as music and movies. He’s led film productions along with acclaimed director Quentin Tarantino on the protests and civil disobedience in oppressive nations. Some of Halvorssen’s award-winning films include The Singing Revolution, Indoctrinate U, Freedom’s Fury and an upcoming box office presentation titled The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. He also writes articles from time to time for The Atlantic magazine.