Some families are just good at doing certain things. There are families of doctors, families of politicians, and then there are families of freedom fighters like the family of Thor Halvorssen Mendoza. Reaching far back into his heritage you find the likes of South American freedom fighter Simon Bolivar who, in their own way, fought against autocrats and others who use their power to abuse.
Stepping In His Father’s Shoes
His parents, Norwegian businessman Thor Halvorssen Hellum and Venezuelan native Hilda Mendoza, have seen their fair share of the darker side of corruption and abuse of human rights. Learn more about Thor Halvorssen: https://www.buzzfeed.com/rosiegray/is-this-the-face-of-a-new-global-human-rights-movement?utm_term=.hu1rbrvoK#.sgLP3Pq98
When Hellum decided to investigate possible money laundering and drug trafficking rackets within the Venezuelan government he was incarcerated on charges of terrorism. Although he was eventually declared innocent of those charges Hellum’s imprisonment had a massive impact on the psychology of his son.
The First Steps
Thor Halvorssen made his first major efforts to promote human rights in 1999 when he exposed labor abuses committed by Lucent Technologies in China.
After Halvorssen exposed the company’s decision to use factories located in Laogai,an area of China known for forced labor camps, a campaign to change Lucent Technologies’ policies in China emerged. Activists used the campaign to push the company into agreeing to avoid any contracts with companies known to use slave labor.
Taking On The Burden
In 2004 Halvorssen founded the Human Rights Foundation. Using this new organization Halvorssen set out to expose and confront authoritarianism around the world. Understanding the importance of winning hearts and minds Thor Halvorssen frequently produces documentaries to help potential activists understand exactly what’s at stake.
With the rise of movements such as Arab Spring or the recent resurgence of activism in China the impact is visible. The risks Thor Halvorssen takes are paying off.