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In this issue

Announcing the next IHEYO Conference, India 28 October – 4 November 2006
The cartoon saga in the Moslem world

IHEYO Executive Committee meets in Ghent: an update on plans
IHEYO present at celebration 50 years of Norwegian Humanist Association
Silvia Geise is elected as vice president of the Council of Europe liaison committee

New Brussels office for IHEYO
Humanist Bio-ethics conference

member Humanistische Jongeren


Dear readers,

IHEYO is proud to present to you our first issue of the 2006 edition of YOUTH SPEA K. We want to extend our sincere gratitude to all the contributors for help creating this educative, inspiring and stimulating piece of infotainment. Thank you!

Herein is insight to inspire you, educate you and challenge you into the humanist world!!

In this issue you can find our 2006 conference announcement. This will take place in India, from 28 October to 5 November. Please mark the dates and visit our website for the application form. Our website is renewed; it is worthwhile to check out!

Also you can find an opinion of our new interim president on the riots around the by now famous cartoons. And an opinion on this year’s World Economic Forum.

And of course there is news from IHEYO, a member organisation in the spotlight: the humanist youth in Belgium, jokes and riddles and much more.

Enjoy every moment of your reading and do not settle for any thing less.

Many thanks to all the readers, funders and our supportive member organizations.

Asaba Lawrence

IHEYO Conference 2006:
Critical thinking and Free inquiry in education

IHEYO is glad to announce for its 5th International Conference in Vijayawada, India under the theme “Critical Thinking & Free Inquiry Education”.

Many humanists recognize the importance of critical thinking and free inquiry in education. One can find courses and methods for this in countries such as the Netherlands, US, India, Germany, Belgium, Nigeria, etc. And there are non-formal educational activities in many other countries that stimulate young people to think and formulate for their own, like in Russia, Nepal, East Africa, all Scandinavian countries, Italy, Australia, Peru to name a few. In some organisations the methods are more developed; in others one can find the ideas in practice but not so thought out.

This conference will be an international training for using educational methods in critical thinking and free inquiry and a start for much more intense collaboration between Indian and young humanist groups and individuals worldwide. It would give young humanists from around the world a better understanding of humanist thinking and the problems in India as well as an opportunity for networking with like minded international organizations.

In this sense it is an unique activity with a global and national impact.

Please fill-in the Application Form at:

If you have questions, do not hesitate to contact us: india2006(at)


Western press has manipulated their readers once again. Their governments and media have told people in western countries that the Cartoon Saga in the Muslim World was about some cartoons. It is not, and we should all know it.

Of course, many Muslims did not enjoy the 12 mocking caricatures of their prophet Muhammad. As we know, Islam has a prohibition of picturing their god and prophet and other holy things. When the largest newspaper in Denmark and a small Norwegian extremist newspaper published these caricatures, it was the famous last straw that broke the camels back.

The western world has neglected the Islamic world in centuries, and its words and actions it has treated the Islamic world badly - from the old crusades to the Iraq wars. All the time, the message communicated has been: "We are better than you!"

The cartoons where not the reason for this winter's chaos. It was the trigger that released frustration from centuries of western oppression. Discussing the world's power balance is difficult, but to give the cartoons as reason for the riots is plain childish. We must know our world's uncomfortable history better than that, and take the responsibility of our knowledge.

Lars-Petter Helgestad
Interim President


Executive Committee meets: an update on plans

The weekend of 3-5 February, the EC had an official meeting concerning current and future projects for IHEYO. It was great to meet each other again, for some it was a meeting for the first time. It is every time an enriching experience to work in an international team, with some great output!

Main topic of our meeting was the next IHEYO Conference. This conference will take place in India, Vijayawada, in November 06. You can read more about this exciting event in this Youth Speak.

We discussed funding requests and how to improve networking to ensure our member organization get to the right funding organization.

Next topic of concern was our African Working Group. We set out a concrete direction; EC-member Asaba Lawrence will coordinate a meeting in East Africa, and will try to organize one in West Africa as well.

A more formal discussion concerned the criteria for membership application. In response to the General Assembly’s request we worked out new guidelines. Individual membership will be discouraged by the EC because of the administrative time it needs. For organizational membership, formal registration will be requested, just as bylaws, action plan and report of activities. This gives better information to IHEYO and its General Assembly for deciding on membership.

Last but not least, our next internship project was prepared. We finalized the funding proposal and made some practical arrangements. Theme of the internship will be ‘Rights of sexual minorities’ and we will be looking for an intern coming from a country were homosexuality is illegal, preferably Uganda. Purpose will be to create a newsletter on sexual education. Host Office will be the Belgian Young Humanists, located in the centre of Brussels.

After this stimulating meeting, all ec members are looking forward to make the best of IHEYO’s future. More details can be found on our website.

Sara Wastijn & Gea Meijers

New office for IHEYO

IHEYO has moved its office to Brussels and restaffed it; current employee is Gea Meijers. She will work for the coming 6 months and hopefully longer, raising funds for IHEYO and supporting the activities as well as managing the secretariat. As Gea is our elected President, 1 st Vice President Lars-Petter Helgestad take up the Interim Presidency for this period. The old office postal address and phonenumbers is not anymore in function. When you want to contact IHEYO, please write, e-mail or phone:

Zelfbestuurstraat 12-14 bus 3,
1050 Anderlecht, Belgium
Tel: +32 (0)2-521 79 20, Fax: +32 (0)2-521 46 42


IHEYO present at celebration 50 years of
Norwegian Humanist Association

IHEYO member organisation, the Norwegian Humanist Association, celebrated its 50th anniversary with a jubilee event at Oslo City Hall on 1 April 2006. Among the guests were King Harald of Norway, Norwegian minister of education Øystein Djupedal and Oslo's Mayor Erling Lae. The large hall was filled with Humanist veterans, current national and local leaders, foreign guests and others. There were speeches, greetings and high-quality music by well known singers, string and brass orchestras and choirs. IHEYO was represented by Gea Meijers, executive director and Lars-Petter Helgestad, interim president.

Norwegian Humanist Association president Mr. Roar Johnsen and
Secretary General Mrs. Kristin Mile welcome some of the guests.

The youth of the Norwegian Humanist Association were the flag bearers, and they did their job with precision and dedication. During this weekend, they had an informative training on how to increase and coordinate humanist youth activities in Norway. The Norwegian Humanist Association has set the goal to have a national youth wing, in complete function and established by 2009. The current active young people are working hard to bring together all the humanist youth for such national structure. Already in some counties of Norway, like the Oslo county (which is the biggest city of Norway) there are on regularly basis, youth activities.

The wonderful celebration ended in a climax with the singing by the audience and all the humanist choirs in Norway of the ‘gedanke sind frei’-song in Norwegian. This is one of the older freethinker songs. In English, it goes:

-from the Bundshuh Rebellion March 17, 1525

Die Gendanken sind frei –
my thoughts freely flower
Die Gedanken sind frei –
my thoughts give me power
No scholar can map them,
no hunter can trap them
No man can deny –
Die Gedanken sind frei!

I think as I please,
and this gives me pleasure
My conscience decrees –
this Right I must treasure!
My thoughts will not cater
to Duke nor Dictator
No man can deny –
Die Gedanken sind frei!

And if tyrants take me
and throw me in prison
My thoughts will burst free,
like blossoms in season!
Foundations will crumble,
the prison will tumble,
And free men will cry:
Die Gedanken sind frei!

Translation from German by Arthur Kevess
copyright 1950 People's Songs Inc.
recorded by the Limelighters "Live - In Person

Humanist Bio-ethics conference

The IHEU-Appignani Center for Bioethics is having its international conference at 21-23 April in New York, USA to discuss the entity of bioethics and its place in the scientific world through paper presentations and panel discussions . The conference is co-organised with Genetics Policy Institute assisted by The Alden March Bioethics Institute (AMBI). Many distinguished scientists and humanist will speak. For those who cannot attend (which are the majority of us) a lot of the information around the conference is also online. Please check out the website of IHEU:

Silvia Geise is elected vice president of the Council of Europe liaison committee

In January 2006, Silvia Geise, was elected as one of the three vice president of the Liaison Committee of the Conference of Council of Europe's (COE) International NGOs. Silvia, who had served as deputy to IHEU’s main representative Alexandre Marius Dées de Sterio for the past five years, switched functions with him this January. She was also contact person for the Liaison committee towards the COE youth advisory council, a function which she now passed on to another young person.

Around 400 International International Non-Governmental Organisations have participatory status with the Council of Europe (CoE), and these INGOs constitute the ‘Conference of INGOs of the Council of Europe’, one of the four pillars of the CoE. The Council of Europe focuses on human rights in Europe and has an own parliament just as the European Union (EU). It is much larger than the EU with over 50 member states.

Silvia will devote her three year mandate to increase the public relations of the ‘Conference of INGOs of the Council of Europe’. She looks forward to be in touch with humanists and receive feedback on the Council of Europe’s activities or blind spots. When you have any suggestions, questions or comments, you can e-mail them to IHEYO’s secretariat who will then forward them to Silvia:

Spotlight: Humanist Youth Belgium

1. Our mission

Humanist Youth is an open, progressive and humanist organisation. We want to challenge children and youngsters to think for themselves and stimulate them to develop into free-thinking and independent human beings. Central concepts in our working are autonomy and free inquiry. We stimulate kids and youngsters to break free of dogmas and prejudices. Humanist Youth gathers humanist inspired youth and provide them with the opportunity to work authentic, critical and with respect for everyone’s characteristics. We don’t want to be ‘anti’ but ‘different’, we are a non-commercial organisation with a personal touch.

2. Our working fields

Our working activities are divided into four fields. First of all, there are about 35 local humanist youth groups spread around Flanders, who work very autonomous. They invent and organise their own activities, choose the frequency of meeting, their target group, etc. Local groups can be youth houses, youngsters and kids groups. The national secretariat supports these groups (when wanted).

Secondly the Humanist Youth organises vacations for children and youngsters (age 6-15). These humanist inspired vacations are supervised by qualified animators (pedagogical teachers).

Our third working field concerns trainings for youth workers in which they learn how to work humanistically with kids and youngsters and are encouraged to take responsibility. We also organise weekends around themes relevant for society or interesting for personal development.

Last but not least, we publish several magazines adjusted to the life experience of kids and youngsters. And we offer documentation files on subjects relevant for humanist youth.

More information can be found on

Sara Wastijn & Griet van Herck

  • "I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: 'O Lord, Make my enemies ridiculous.' And God granted it." Voltaire
  • "I've got nothing against God. It's his fan club I can't stand." Unknown


IHEYO YouthSpeak, Edited:
Gea Meijers, Lars-Petter Helgestad and Asaba Lawrence
Contact YouthSpeak at:
Signed articles does not necessarily reflect the official view of IHEYO

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