Human rights activist Thor Halvorssen sat in the upper areas of the Christiana Theater in Oslo, Norway, listening in on a phone call. He was Chen Guangcheng and his wife, Yuan Weijing. Guangcheng was exiled Chinese dissident. He had been arrested following a peaceful demonstration against financial crimes committed against himself, his family, and others.
Guangcheng was talking about actor Christian Bale, who accompanied CNN reporters on a trip to China several years before. The actor and the camera crew went to beg the government’s forgiveness and barter for Guangcheng ‘s release. Bale and the CNN crew were harassed, assaulted, and stalked as they fled the area.
Mr Halvorssen is the founder of the Human Rights Foundation, an organization that works to educate about international human rights. The organization meets annually at the Oslo Freedom Forum where people share their stories and work together to find solutions to the world’s humanitarian crisis.
Halvorssen was never a stranger to the world’s humanitarian crisis. He was born in Venezuela and is of Norwegian and Venezuelan descent. Halvorssen’s father was arrested in the early 1990s. He was held for 70 days, beaten, and tortured. He was later found not guilty on charges of money laundering and terrorism. Halvorssen’s mother was also an activist. She attended the 2004 Venezuelan recall referendum where she was shot by government security agents. She survived. Click here to watch video.
Halvorssen’s passion and energy have been noted by his colleagues.
“I tell people that he is a force of nature,” said Berlin-based journalist Jamie Kirchick.
“He is very driven and energetic,” said Jacob Mchangama, a German activist. “His foundation has helped me to accomplish things that I could not have done on my own.”
Despite his high energy levels and good nature, Halvorssen has stated that he has no interest in being the face for the cause.
“I hate the idea of being the face of the organization,” Halvorssen said. “I like the idea of people focusing on the problem at hand, not the idea of ‘The Thor Show.'”