Fostering a passion for ridding the world of dictators that subjugate their people, Thor Halvorssen has made it his life’s work to expose the atrocities inflicted upon innocent people throughout the world. Aware since childhood of the injustices in his own country of Venezuela, Mr. Halvorssen has been an active advocate of human rights worldwide.
Born in 1976 to Thor Halvorssen Hellum, a former Ambassador of Anti-Narcotics Affairs, and to Hilda Mendoza, Thor’s family was directly affected by their corrupt government. During the 1980’s, Thor’s father became involved in fighting human rights violations that were taking place in Central America. In 1993, while attending the University of Pennsylvania, Thor learned that his father had been unlawfully imprisoned for “terrorism” while he was investigating the actions of a drug cartel. With the help of Amnesty International, Thor fought for his father’s release and, after seventy four days, his father was cleared of all the charges. In addition to his father’s activism, his mother’s equally shared passion found her at an anti-Chavez event which turned violent and left her wounded.
Thor has continued to work with a variety of organizations that target human rights violators. Based on the volume of articles he has written, his knowledge is expansive and thorough. Arguably, his biggest contribution to protecting human rights is the founding of the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) in 2005. Not interested in political affiliations, HRF consists of people who share a passion for personal liberties and freedom. Having assisted in the release of several political prisoners, HRF works tirelessly to expose the dictators that abuse their people. Annually, HRF hosts the Oslo Freedom Forum. The event draws leaders and activists from around the world. It’s aim? To continue the fight for peace throughout the world.
George Soros was not always the incredibly wealthy and successful businessman that he is today. Now, Soros is considered one of the richest individuals on the planet and currently serves as the Chair of Soros Fund Management, one of the most successful hedge funds in the world. He has been responsible for creating a personal fortune that has surpassed almost every other. With all of these resources, George Soros has explained in interviews with the press that he feels compelled to do something positive to make an impact on the world. For Soros, this means taking a strong stand against the violation of the rights of immigrants and people who have been persecuted by their own governments. As such, Soros has been increasingly involved in politics in the U.S. by funding campaigns of candidates that support liberal and progressive causes. Outside of the U.S., Soros has been involved in incredible philanthropic efforts through his Open Society Foundations. They now have a presence in the majority of countries around the world and work diligently to promote freedom for people everywhere and transparency from governments. One of the core principles of the Open Society Foundations is that the best way to uphold the common good is to have open access to information and the free exchange of ideas without fear of reprisal.
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The Open Society Foundations take on a variety of causes throughout the world. For example, after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the defeat of communism, Soros opened the Central European University in the hopes of fostering critical thinking and open discussions among people interested in educating themselves and protecting their individual rights. One major component of the Open Society Foundation is attorneys and other legal professionals who defend refugee rights or help individuals who are being wrongfully held by governments as political prisoners.
Another herculean effort by the Open Society Foundations has been to fund scholarship opportunities for students all over the world who would not otherwise have access to any higher education. Through promoting education and literacy, the Open Society Foundations are enabling and empowering people to be capable of holding their governments accountable and fighting back against oppression. According to Soros, part of having a vibrant democracy that is tolerant of individual rights and is able to have staying power, is to enable citizens to fight for their own rights. Part of making that happen is to have an educated electorate, which cannot be so easily manipulated by the government. As Soros has spoken about frequently, an educated population is a great defense to authoritarian rule.
Perhaps even more immediate than fulfilling the educational needs of the people is the necessity of providing adequate medical care. The Open Society Foundations are responsible for numerous public health initiatives around the world, including fighting for more government accountability in providing for public health care. The Open Society Foundations go further than simply doling out medical supplies, they support changes in government policies to provide access to health care for all.
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The story of North Korea and the problems the country has faced under the rule of Communist leaders is one that has rarely been told from the inside the country’s borders; however, 22 year old Yeonmi Park is leading the fight against North Korean censorship by telling her own story of defection in a new memoir. Amazon’s hottest selling book right now, “In Order To Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey To Freedom” tells the truth of what life is really like living in various classes of North Korean society, and the problems faced by those who look to escape to democracy.
Yeonmi ‘s story has been told on a number of occasions, but retains its ability to shock by revealing the lies told through North Korean propaganda and the abuse suffered at the hands of people traffickers. Yeonmi Park has become a well known figure for those who are part of the human rights movement and to the wider public who have seen her appearances on various news and talk shows, Reason reports.
The story of Yeonmi Park which she has shared on the Reason.com, has stood up to the most rigorous checks after members of the North Korean regime looked to discredit her without success. The family of Yeonmi Park began in a position of power as members of the government elite, but fell from grace when the patriarch of the family used the black market to provide food for his starving children. Despite facing the most dangerous form of brainwashing, Yeonmi Park and her mother found themselves destitute and made the dangerous decision to trust their lives to human traffickers in a bid to find freedom and happiness in South Korea.
Park’s mother was forced to make the most difficult decisions imaginable to protect her daughter on the journey through China to the democratic South. Yeonmi Park would see her own fathers attempts to join his family on the journey to freedom end with his death from untreated cancer. The strength to continue with her journey and help those who remain trapped in North Korea has driven Yeonmi Park to defy those who seek to silence her.