Thor Halvorssen: A paragon of ‘human rights’
Thor Halvorssen’s deep engagement in the complicated and often dizzying politics of global human rights has put him at the center of a series of international conflicts. It has also made him one of the most polarizing and perplexing figures in the arena of human rights activism. His New York–based Human Rights Foundation has one item on its agenda: to combat oppressive regimes worldwide, whether that means extricating activists from their countries, mounting campaigns to free political prisoners, or inviting dissidents and journalists to the Foundation’s annual forum, in its seventh year this year. Halvorssen has been a figure of some controversy for a few years in Norway, where the conference is held and where his family originated before his grandfather, Oestein Halvorssen, moved his family to Venezuela as the Norwegian king’s consul and became the Venezuelan representative for large corporations such as Ericsson.
Halvorssen is intensely energetic, a trait that can be a little too much in person, but that translates well on TV or in front of a crowd. He opened up the conference by exhorting the crowd to attend every speech and to not show up late for any of them, and for the rest of the time, stayed off stage, preferring to work with activists and help them network.
Since the mid-2000s, Halvorssen has focused on his work with the Human Rights Foundation, which originally zeroed in on combating left-wing populist authoritarianism in Latin America and has since expanded its scope. The bulk of the activities, energy, and money, though, seem to go to the forum in Oslo, a city Halvorssen chose as his venue upon the recommendation of his uncle Olaf. It is the city of the Oslo Peace Accords, and where the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded. The Freedom Forum started small but has grown every year.
Oslo Freedom Forum (OFF) convened again this summer. For the seventh consecutive year, organizers brought together “hundreds of the World‘s most influential dissidents, innovators, journalists, philanthropists and policymakers” to discuss authoritarianism in their home countries. The founders call the event a “Davos of human rights.”
The forum’s 2014 theme was —“Defeating Dictators”—that explored nonviolent ways to challenge these regimes and stop other countries from falling under the rule of a strongman. Panel discussions were on “Tyrants and Technology” and “Dangerous Words”. With this reflects the true mission of this platform formed to promote the greatest agenda of all for democracy and freedom for humanity, with ever increasing loads of controversies – that the organization has been successfully grown out of the clout of political inclination.
Even though the views could be different towards various speakers and participants who have remained a part of this forum, the reality is that the forum’s success and its gatherings organized by Halvorssen are affecting those who have remained the enemies to the freedom of mankind and are best known for their tools of persecution. As such, this is reflected by some reports being mentioned as examples of perpetual propagation:
In 2002, influential Venezuelan businessman Marcel Granier and RCTV (Radio Caracas Television) were supportive of the coup against then president Hugo Chavez. They also manipulated footage and bluntly lied to their own viewers about the events during the coup to ensure the ouster of Chávez, as shown in the Irish documentary “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”. Before Chávez’s allies got the president back in power, RCTV and other private TV stations were warmly thanked by the leaders of the coup, saying that they could never have succeeded had it not been for RCTV and the rest of the private media. Granier, among others, was dubbed “voice of freedom” and “hero of human rights,” respectively. Granier was a participant of the 2010 Oslo Freedom Forum.
In 2011, a figure from Argentina‘s far-right, Victoria Villarruel, was invited to speak about “the forgotten victims of terror.” According to respected Latin America experts Benedicte Bull and Johannes Nymark, Villarruel is trying to rewrite the history of Argentina‘s military dictatorship, which killed about 10 times as many dissidents as Chile‘s Pinochet government, and defend the military that committed the atrocities.
The Oslo Times International News Network sees the growth of Oslo Freedom Forum as the biggest milestone achieved by the flag bearers of human rights and shuns any propaganda being created by various media organizations towards its funding and its participants by showing their past involvements and activities that may be regarded as the violations in terms of human rights preservations. As reality holds truth, one must not forget that while putting the allegations on its founder or HRF that steps taken by various activists who have participated in the forum do not mean that supporting a coup against the democratically elected dictator like Chavez is justified but, the reactions are as similar as are of the events of Arab Springs / sectarian violence after forming democratic Iraq or the newly founded South Sudan / erstwhile Sudan or Sri Lanka where the democratically elected government is suppressing the rights of minorities under the patronage of Budda Bala Sena and many more.
When democratically elected governments start acting as the authoritarian dictators while depriving their people of a free and fair democratic environment where, under their regimes, they can’t even exercise their basic fundamental rights, where their constitution is torn apart and being changed to serve the corrupt political agendas of those democratically elected leaders as being termed by many media and social organizations to criticize the greatest human rights activist of this century Thor Halvorssen, HRF & the Oslo Freedom Forum.
The Oslo Times treats these kinds of reports and allegations as politically motivated attempts by those who too are being considered as the advocates of the humanity and democracy.
By the Editorial Board of The Oslo Times
All Rights Reserved with The Oslo Times