Category Archives: Human Rights Activist

Thor Halvorssen is One of the Most Accomplished Human Rights Activists in the World

Thor Leonardo Halvorssen Mendoza was born on March 9, 1976. The tireless Venezuelan human rights activist is better known as Thor Halvorssen. For Thor Halvorssen, the struggle for human rights and justice is a very personal business. Unlike many of today’s human rights activists, Thor Halvorssen and his family have personally experienced the abuse that was inflicted upon innocent people by authoritarian regimes.

In Venezuela, Thor’s father was unjustly arrested and tortured for investigating government corruption. He spent 74 days in jail before Thor got him released with the help of Amnesty International. After that, Thor Halvorssen’s mother was wounded by gunshots while she was peacefully protesting against the abuses of Hugo Chavez in 2004.

Thor Halvorssen founded the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education in 1999. This U.S. based civil liberties group associated with other organizations such as the Heritage Foundation to promote the right of free speech click here. Thor Halvorssen believes in free for everyone regardless of their political beliefs. Thor has vigorously defended the speech rights of people from both left and right side of the political arena.

Thor Halvorssen started the Human Rights Foundation in 2005. The HRF established its headquarters in New York City. The HRF works to free political prisoners around the world. The HRF is guided by the principles of fighting for freedom from tyranny and promoting freedom of self-determination. His website, Thor’s work with the HRF has gained freedom for seven political prisoners who were unjustly incarcerated in prisons around the world.

In addition to his other work, Thor Halvorssen is also a talented movie producer. Thor understands that film is a powerful medium that can be used to raise public awareness of the many human rights violations that are still taking place in the world. In his film about the Dominican Republic, The Sugar Babies, Thor spotlights the human trafficking and abuse of migrant workers that takes place in that country. Thor Halvorssen continues to use every means at his disposal to fight for the oppressed and powerless people around the world.

Young Yeonmi Park Is A Powerful Voice For Change In North Korea

Yeonmi Park is a young but powerful activist who is quickly gaining an international platform from which to shed light on the brutal atrocities being committed regularly by the North Korean government. Born in 1993 in Hyesan, North Korea, Yeonmi has experienced first hand the rigid control exerted by the North Korean government over it’s citizenry. In early 2014, the UN released a more than 400 page report detailing a laundry list of governmental offenses and crimes against humanity compiled from the testimonies of more than 300 North Korean Refugees. The report painted a gruesome picture of rampant governmental abuses and widespread civil rights violations. Among the accusations were numerous accounts of abuses which took place in the government run hard labor camps, where citizens were frequently sent for such ludicrous charges as watching soap operas – an account that seems completely unbelievable until paired with numerous other horrifyingly similar testimonies. Yeonmi herself witnessed firsthand the kinds of violence and abuse committed against detainees in the labor camps, when her own father was sentenced to more than a decade in one. Under the leadership of Kim Il-sung, grandfather of the current leader Kim Jong-un, North Korea experienced a harsh famine in the early 90’s which was exacerbated by governmental abuse and mismanagement. As a result, many citizens were forced to turn to activities which would be perfectly normal in another country, but deemed illegal by Kim Il-sung’s son, Kim Jong-Il, who assumed power after his father’s death in 1994. Under Kim Jong-Is reign, food was given to those that cooperated with the government or were deemed useful and withheld from those that opposed the government or were not considered useful. Like many others, Yeonmi’s parents resorted to smuggling their own valuables into China to sell for food – an activity that was not only deemed illegal by the government, but for which Yeonmi’s father was sentenced to more than a decade in a hard labor camp. Yeonmi and her mother escaped through China, where they spent nearly two years facing even greater horrors than the ones they had escaped from in North Korea. Finally, however, they were able to make their way into Mongolia where they sought sanctuary at the South Korean Embassy. Now safely ensconced in Seoul, South Korea, Yeonmi has made it her mission on nknews to ensure that neither South Korea nor the rest of the world can turn a blind eye to the plight of North Korea. As a frequent guest on numerous radio and talk shows, she works hard to keep North Korea in the forefront of South Korean consciousness. In 2014, she was asked to speak at the Oslo Freedom Forum, and later at the One Young World Summit in Dublin, Ireland. There, she delivered a powerful and impassioned speech that left few unmoved. Her speech subsequently went viral and gained her a new following of supporters sympathetic to her cause. Shortly thereafter, she was recognized by the BBC for her passionate work and appeared on their prestigious “100 Women of 2014” list.