The world of the 21st century seems to be more enthralled with the life of celebrities and famous people than ever before, but making sure these public figures are held accountable for the bad decisions they make is a task human rights activist Thor Halvorssen is looking to use to push forward the role of the human rights activism community. Among those who have fallen foul of the University of Pennsylvania graduate are rapper Nicki Minaj and Oscar winner Hilary Swank, who have both taken payments from dictators to appear at events Halvorssen feels continue the oppression of the people of these closed societies.
Thor Halvorssen has written open letters published by major media outlets to the stars he feels have made an incorrect decision in appearing in nations where tyrannical rulers oppress their citizens on a regular basis. The film producer and founder of the Human Rights Foundation pulls no punches in his appraisal of those he feels have crossed the line in terms of creating links with corrupt governments; for example, Nicki Minaj was criticized by Halvorssen for appearing at a 2015 Christmas festival in Uganda, a country that has seen its resources and wealth seized by a government under the control of the family of President Jose Eduardo dos Santos.
After Nicki Minaj was announced as the headlining act at the festival in the Ugandan capital Thor Halvorssen penned an open letter to the “Anaconda” rapper that stated the government of the country had jailed 14 people for reading about democracy and nonviolent forms of protest. Thor Halvorssen stated the rapper had lost all credibility in the charitable work she completes after appearing at the event, a public stance he has maintained as he brought the attention of the public to the appearances of Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, and Soccer superstar Lionel Messi. This use of the missteps of public figures is bringing the issue of human rights to popular shows, such as “The Howard Stern Show” where the actions of well known people highlight the plight of people living in these countries.