Thailand bans Hunger Games salute

June 04, 2014 - 8:25:20 am
Anti-coup protesters flashing a three-finger salute during a gathering at a shopping mall which was broken up by security forces in Bangkok recently.

BANGKOK: Thailand’s military rulers say they are monitoring a new form of silent resistance to the coup — a three-fingered salute borrowed from science fiction blockbuster The Hunger Games — and will arrest those in large groups who ignore warnings to lower their arms.

The raised arm salute has become an unofficial symbol of opposition to Thailand’s 22 May coup, and a creative response to several bans the ruling junta has placed on freedom of expression.

“At this point we are monitoring the movement,” said Colonel Weerachon Sukhondhapatipak, a spokesman for the ruling junta. “If it is an obvious form of resistance, then we have to control it so it doesn’t cause any disorder in the country.”

Asked what the symbol meant, some protesters say it stands for the French revolution’s trinity of values: liberty, equality, fraternity, while others say it means freedom, election and democracy. A photo montage circulating online paired a picture from The Hunger Games with a graphic of three fingers labelled, 1. No Coup, 2. Liberty, 3. Democracy.

In the book and movie series, the salute is a symbol of rebellion against totalitarian rule and stands for thank you, admiration and goodbye to someone you love.

“We know it comes from the movie, and let’s say it represents resistance against the authorities,” Weerachon said, noting that if authorities encounter the salute they will first ask protesters to stop. “If a single individual raises three fingers in the air, we are not going to arrest him or her,” he said.

Social activist Sombat Boonngam-anong, who has helped organise anti-coup protests, posted an explanation of the salute on his Facebook page along with a call to step up the silent acts of defiance.

“Raising three fingers has become a symbol in calling for fundamental political rights,” wrote Sombat, a member of the “Red Shirt” movement that had backed the now-ousted government and warned it would take action if there was a coup. He called on people to raise “3 fingers, 3 times a day” in public places where there is no police or military presence. The Guardian

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