Thai Junta Bans Hunger Games Salute

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June 3 2014 10:08 AM

Thai Junta Bans Hunger Games Salute

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The odds are not in their favor.

Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images

The AP reports that the military government that took power in Thailand after a coup last month has banned protesters from using the “Mockingjay” salute from the Hunger Games movies. The salute has been widely adopted as a symbol by demonstrators against the coup government, and leaders of the Red Shirt movement, who support ousted Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, have asked supporters to raise "3 fingers, 3 times a day" in public places.

In its Thai incarnation, the three fingers symbolize either liberty, equality, and fraternity, or freedom, elections, and democracy, depending on who you ask.

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A spokesman for the junta explained:

“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 told the Associated Press. "But if it is a political gathering of five people or more, then we will have to take some action."
"If it persists, then we will have to make an arrest," he said.

It makes some sense that the Red Shirts would identify with The Hunger Games, or at least more sense than the activists for various causes who have adopted the Guy Fawkes mask from V for Vendetta, but likely have little interest in the cause of Catholic supremacy that the actual Fawkes stood for.

The Red Shirts’ support, after all, is drawn primarily from Thailand’s less-developed rural regions, whose residents see themselves in opposition to the economic and political elites who live in the capital. Sound familiar? 

Though Yingluck, the ousted prime minister and sister of exiled oligarch Thaksin Shinawatra, doesn’t really seem like much of a Katniss.

Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs and writes the World blog. 

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