Fearless Fifteen Story | Kateryna Viktorivna Handziuk

The series of FEARLESS FIFTEEN STORY is an outcome of "More than Skin Deep", a passion-project by artist, Debasmita Dasgupta (Singapore) and poet, Claire Rosslyn Wilson (Barcelona). This poster is inspired by the courage of Kateryna Viktorivna Handziuk from Ukraine.
Kateryna's True Story >>

“I believe…that each of us will be free and there will be no fear in our hearts.” were Kateryna Handziuk’s final words as she sent out her last public message from her hospital bed in September 2018, two months before her passing.

Kateryna was a devotedly loved daughter, a fearless civil society and anti-corruption activist-campaigner and political advisor in the city of Kherson, Ukraine. Her interests in civil rights and politics arose while she was still a young university student. She became the youth leader of a prominent political party, an elected representative of the regional council and actively participated in the radical Orange Revolution that uprooted the corrupt electoral course of Ukraine in 2004. By then Handziuk had already become a prominent political demonstrator in the Revolution of Dignity, fought Russian propaganda and became a UN representative.

However, her determined fight for a better society, vocal criticism of corruption in law enforcement agencies and, particularly, her stance towards illegal forest fires in her region, proved to be very dangerous. On the morning of July 31, 2018, as Kateryna was leaving for work, a litre of sulfuric acid was poured over her head by an unrecognized assailant. In her own words after the brutal attack, “Why do we encourage people to be socially active but we cannot protect them?”, Kateryna did not hesitate to question the hypocrisy in society. And even though the corrosive liquid had burned more than 30% of her body and she had to undergo 11 surgeries, Kateryna remained far from silent. She demanded justice, not just for herself but also for other activists who had suffered a similar fate, and in the process even criticized the system stating, “Yes, I know that I look bad, but at least I am being treated, and I’m sure that I look better than fairness and justice in Ukraine, because they are not being treated by anybody today.”

Soon after the attack, her group of friends, supporters and journalists started their investigation alongside the police as they realized that the authorities were suppressing information. The investigation transformed into the nationwide movement, ‘Who ordered the murder of Katya Handziuk?’

On the morning of November 4 2018, after an agonizing battle, Kateryna finally succumbed to her wounds and passed on.
Her death spurred a series of rallies and protests, and candlelight vigils demanding transparent investigation and justice. Kateryna’s father too became an active supporter in the movement.

Kateryna’s legacy lives on as activists throughout Ukraine ensure that her fight for justice lives on in others and that those responsible are held to account.

--- narrated by Isha Bhattacharya

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Strategy & Engagement Partner: Creative Arts Social, Singapore
Creative Arts Social (CAS) is Singapore’s biggest arts community specialising in arts engagement for adults.
Media Partner: Arts illustrated Magazine
Arts Illustrated is an Indian based arts and design magazine dedicated to understanding the contemporary arts landscape and creating a more inclusive ecosystem for the arts in the country.

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