YouthSpeak No.8 August, 2009

Presidential Note
Thinking of October
For the Sake of Yesterday, Today and the Future
Talibans attack four northern Nigerian states
Project of the Month
Are you warming up for October?
Come and let’s share ideas on Secularism
Book Review/Resource
The MDG Youth Report

Come and let’s share ideas on Secularism

(As IHEYO puts finishing touches to the organisation of this year's international youth conference in  Nepal, YouthSpeak Editor, Yemi Ademowo Johnson, links with the Executive Director of the Society for Humanism, Nepal and Head of the local organising committee for the October conference, Uttam Niraula for a chat. Below is an excerpt of the chat).

YS: Can we meet you, briefly (full name and positions held within the
humanist circuit, local and international)?
Uttam: I am Uttam Niraula, current vice president of IHEYO and the executive director of Society for Humanism (SOCH) Nepal. I have spent about 6 years volunteering within the humanist movement.  
YS: Nepal is the host country for the next IHEYO conference, how far with preparations?
Uttam: We are at the peak of our preparations. Venue and accommodation plans are completed. We are also almost through with preliminary discussions on the topics and sub-themes of the conference. Names of guest speakers are also almost finalized. A lot of international friends are contacting us for joining IHEYO conference in Nepal. The whole IHEYO team is also working hard to make the conference a huge success.  The entire plan and program schedule will be on IHEYO’s website soon.   
YS: Secularism. How did your group arrive at tagging the conference for secularism?
Uttam: Nepal is the youngest secular country in the world. It was declared a secular state about 2 years ago. Before then, Nepal was the only  Hindu country in the world. Many religious extremists are still crying foul over this change to secularism and in fact seeking for reversion of that decision. Nepal is also drafting its constitution at the moment.  Furthermore, there are lots of religious unrests happening in almost all South Asian countries. Political parties are clearly carrying the religious flags which is the main cause of social unrests and violations of human rights. They are making each person enemy against other community by birth. This is the social schooling which is being propagated by politicians, and of course religious groups (and, very unfortunately, government itself). Until state and beliefs are separated, our society would not be able to make any significant move towards peace and justice. We can see many religious massacres in India, dogmas in Middle East, Pakistan and Bangladesh. It is the same in Nepal. It is just because of lack of awareness of secularism. People still do not know the meaning and importance of secularism.
It is against this backdrop that SOCH, Nepal is supporting community and parliament of Nepal in drafting secular constitution which will guarantee the natural justice to all people. We are therefore glad to have IHEYO's support in further enthreshing and highlighting the essence of secularism during this conference in Nepal. It has two benefits for participants: participants will observe and analyze the process of writing secular constitution in Nepal and also help Nepalese community by showing solidarity for secularism.  
YS: What do you think are the roles of and for youths in guaranteeing a secular global community?
Uttam: My only concern is how to spread humanist ideas. For that, organizations like IHEYO, SSA should establish massive youth networking in every corner of the world. Today’s youth should at least see the beauty of the world breaking religious barriers for that is the only way to push the world towards harmony and justice.  
YS: Aside talking, talking and talking, what other side attractions should intending participants expect?
Uttam: We are planning to take the participants on a visit to a village where SOCH, Nepal is implementing the sustainable development program. Participants will also visit the parliament of Nepal where the secular constitution of Nepal is being drafted. Of course they are youths so will want some refreshment and recreation, we will assist participants for that as well.  
YS: What are your greatest challenges now as local organisers of the international event?
Uttam: We are in political transition in Nepal with a lot of ups and downs at the moment. It is hard for Nepal government to uphold strong sense of the rule of law. Now you can imagine the mamoth of challenges that  we, as local organisers, have to surmount. But so far our optimism has brought us thus far and in fact we are more energized and optimistic for the conference now.
YS: Thanks for your time. Do you have any parting shot for us (last words)?
Uttam: I want to welcome all the participants to Nepal. Let’s share and learn ideas of Secularism. It is the first conference in Nepal on this topic as far as I know. So we are going to raise a lot of opportunitiesand dicourses.

For the sake of Yesterday, Today and the Future

Yesterday is gone. Today is what we live in; while tomorrow, which holds a blank cheque, that no intelligent person can resist, is what we live by.I f one on the basis of the foregoing statement,however, decided to neglect both yesterday and today and strive only for tomorrow, then such a person courts nothing but colossal failure. What this means is that  all phases of life are important. The only difference is that the duo of yesterday and today are instruments that could, if effectively managed, guarantee a better tomorrow.

This thought holds in almost all life situations and happenstances as well as in the management of social relations. In an organisation, for instance, the yesterday, as vital as it is to the organisation, is only useful if relevant to today's situation, mostly as a source of history in setting records straight and; today, as dear as it is to us, is ever conscious of posterity, often brought about by tomorrow. Finally, tomorrow is like a ghost that hunts, just like yesterday, and so uncertain, as today. This paradox then explains why organisations are so concerned about all these three phases of life for without due concern to the three there will be no history, no event and no projections. Indeed, the going concern is never guaranteed.

The yesterday-today-tomorrow nexus explains why the board members of the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) are so concerned about the survival of their youth arm, the International Humanist and Ethical Youth Organisation (IHEYO). Several measures have been taken, and are being taking, to ensure that IHEYO remain active not just for today but to guarantee the going entity of the lifestance called Humanism. The leaders of the protected youth arm, IHEYO, on the other hand, are ever conscious of posterity hence their untiring efforts in ensuring that despite all odds, they are able to carry on witn certain projects that can endear and sustain the youths within the humanist lifestance.

While the leaders of these two organisations have the onus task of setting priorities and engineering projects that will gurantee the future, it is the task of everyone of us to work together with them so that when we become part of 'yesterday', those that will be living 'today' at the time, will not just think well of us but also be happy to borrow a leaf from us for the sake of their own 'tomorrow'. This is an obligation that every humanist must fulfil for the sake of yesterday, today and tomorrow! We can do it.


'Yemi Ademowo Johnson, Editor

Are you warming up for October?

IHEYO announces its 8th International Humanist Youth Conference in Kathmandu, Nepal. It will take place from 20th to 25th October, 2009.

The topic of the 2009 International Youth Humanist Conference is  "Secularism: The Open Door for Human Rights Defense" and we shall be  discussing human rights questions  as pertaining to church-state separation. We shall also be focusing on youth humanism globally and how we, as individuals and organizations, can work together to achieve our common goals.

Aside this, the conference will also seek to address the need of a workable network inside IHEYO and mostly in the working groups to motivate more groups worldwide to join. Humanist organizers and human rights activists will gain further knowledge on how to get their messages across through in an appealing, effective way and learn about multiplier tasks.
Despite paucity of funds, IHEYO aims to support youth humanist leaders from developing countries, most especially within Asia, to attend this event.

For more information and inquiries contact:

Talibans attack four northern Nigerian states

The bloody clash between the police and members of an Islamic fundamentalist group known as Boko Haram ("education is sin"), which left many dead in the early hours of Sunday (26 July) in Bauchi, has spread to other states in the North.

The militant group, locally known as 'Taliban', is opposed to western education and has been campaigning for the imposition of Sharia'h (Islamic law) on the 36 states of the federation. The group allegedly sparked off the crisis when its members launched an attack on a police station in Bauchi, leading to the bloodbath.

Over 150 people were left dead, while indigenes of the area are said to be fleeing their homes.

Tarksheel Movement in India

Tarksheel Society (Regd.) (Rationalist Society India) was established in 1984, under the auspices of Sh. Megh Raj Mitter in order to educate and awaken the people about the menace and unfathomable dangers of all religions, caste system, untouchability, superstitions and miracles. Tarksheel Society (TS) under takes the mission to assert the  supremacy of reason and scientific temperament over all arbitrary assumptions and artificially man made creeds. TS dedicates itself with all the resources and opportunities at its command to annihilate communalism, religious fanaticism, caste and untouchability. TS vehemently advocates the separation or religion and education on the real principles of secularism. TS stands for the voice its grievances against all kinds of repression and exploitation. TS endeavors to perpetuate the equality, freedom and happiness for the whole humanity.

TS has a well organized structure to achieve and realize its aims and objectives. There are units in almost all the villages and towns. These units are elected by the direct participation of all the members of the unit. These preliminary units are controlled and guided by the democratically elected district Bodies. These District Bodies are elected by the office bearers and all the members of the preliminary units. This whole set up is maneuvered by the state Body duly elected by the district bodies and the preliminary units.

In order to disseminate the philosophy of atheism, rationalism and free thought the TS organizes public meetings, conferences study camps, seminars, publication of literature and its distribution, dramas and demonstration of scientific games and play let etc. TS has its own drama and cultural squads and magic show teams.

TS has its own teams who shoulder the responsibility of treating the mentally deranged individuals. TS has solved about 300 cases of brick/stone throwing in the houses, burning and tearing of clothes, missing of precious and valuable articles including gold and silver ornaments from the houses. TS has also treated 40,000 cases psychologically ill patients allegedly said to be possessed by the ghosts, bhootas, pretays and evil spirits etc. The activities of TS are mainly confined to the state of Punjab but now and then it operates in the neighboring states of Haryana, Himachal Pardesh, Rajsthan, Delhi and Chandigarh, Uttar Pardesh, Madhya Pardesh & Jammu Kashmir also.

With an open mind and with a view to enhance and promote the cause of atheism and rationalism TS has very cordial relations and understanding with all other like-minded organizations such as Atheist center Vijaywada, India Rationalist Association, The Atheist Society of India Visakhapatnam, Bihar Budhivadi, C.S.I.C.O.P. India (lead by B. Premand) etc. TS is having a firm Convection of exchanging the view and experiences with other organizations for the mutual benefit and in order to establish a strong world fraternity of the atheists/rationalists etc.

TS encourage and accelerate the spirit of free inquiry among its members, sympathizers, supporters and school going children. TS thus liberates them from the shackles of religious mental slavery.
Find out more on the organisation's website

Thinking of October

Although this is no account of stewardship, yet looking back to IHEYO's last year activities, most especially the international conference, which was part of the IHEU-AHA congress in Washington, I am confident that we have been  more open to our members at a level we have never been before. With the theme "The future of Youth humanism", IHEYO Washington conference re-examined and questioned our actual status and state, as a group, and that was not really successful. We had lots of problems executing our  funded projects due to dearth of volunteers or people who could help us out. Furthermore we were stucked in our administrative duties next to different tasks initiated just to keep an international organisation like IHEYO alive.
Fortunately, we got a lot of helping hands, encouragements and, through election, a new team inside the IHEYO EC as we entered 2009. It looked like a new good start but after almost one year of working now in the EC as President and working with a new board, I still see a lot of challenges, most especially our closed communication office. The new yet energised EC is still working on a better inside structure, which we hope will promote better communication and connection with our members.
One of our members, Society for Humanism, Nepal (SOCH), is responsible for our next international conference coming up in Nepal. SOCH, like IHEYO, is a youth-led organisation with a lot of potentials. Believing in a good change through education and presence in the political and social area of Nepal, SOCH is trying its best to publicise secular and humanist values in its surrounding. Changes take time; this is no news to those working for change in the world. Nepal is now a secular state, but that doesn´t mean that people are thinking everyday in a secular way. That is the reason that made IHEYO chose Nepal as its next conference host country and secularism as its theme of the new conference. Our thought is that it is time to show our possibilities, to give Nepal and SOCH some support and to raise more interests and discourses around secularism and human rights in Nepal and all over the world.    

My hope for Nepal conference is not only that of a fruitful deliberations, but also an expectation of good resolutions and experiences we can be proud to take home to better our national organisations and working fields. Sometimes we just listen to already familiar knowledge, sometimes we learn so much new things, but it is never a waste of time as repetitions make it possible to reflect and re-evaluate our work again and again; while  new issues bring new ideas, reconstructions and projects. It is too late to be pessimistic. It is time to take action; why not join us in Nepal?

Silvana Uhlrich, President IHEYO

Youth and the MDGs Report

Youth and the Millennium Development Goals: Challenges and Opportunities for Implementation
This report has been formulated by an international team of young leaders from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and incorporates the dialogue of a 3-week online consultation with over 350 youth from around the world.

The paper outlines how young people can be included and empowered as part of the strategies that Member States and the United Nations system are creating for the achievement of the MDGs. It can be used as a lobby tool and guide for programmatic action, but ultimately, it is a call to all Member States, UN specialized agencies, and civil society to create mechanisms for youth to participate in the implementation of the MDGs and take advantage of the work and activities youth are already leading. This paper aims to show that investing in youth will provide a long-lasting and effective dividend towards meeting the MDGs through building social capacity for development to 2015 and beyond.

Download Youth and the MDGs report in: English
Email youth@ for printed copies of the above reports.