Hunger Games Salute Now a Real Form of Resistance

Junta crackdown inspires creative protests in Thailand
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 3, 2014 1:41 AM CDT
Anti-Coup Thais Turn to Hunger Games , 1984
Workers haul a Ronald McDonald statue inside a McDonald's after anti-coup protesters used the place as a gathering spot and used the McDonald's logo in their anti-coup signs.   (AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn)

With elections 15 months away at a minimum and the ruling military junta cracking down hard on dissent, Thais opposed to the military coup are getting creative. Public gatherings of more than five people are banned and protesting the military takeover is now a crime, but flash mobs of dozens of people have been springing up around Bangkok, flashing a three-fingered salute inspired by the Hunger Games series before melting into crowds, Global Post finds. But even this form of protest has its risks: One woman who gave the salute was seen being hauled screaming into a taxi by people presumed to be plainclothes undercover police, and the AP reports the country's military leaders say they will arrest those in large groups who ignore warnings to lower their arms.

Asked what the symbol meant, protesters have given varying explanations. Some say it stands for the French Revolution's trinity of values: liberty, equality, fraternity. Others say it means freedom, election, and democracy. Meanwhile, dissidents have also started gathering in small groups to read 1984 and other dystopian novels in public. "My friends told me when they read 1984 for the first time they could never imagine there would be a country like that, but it’s happening now in Thailand,” one activist tells the Christian Science Monitor. "People are really watching you, your computers are being monitored … and many people have been detained in undisclosed locations." McDonald's, meanwhile, isn't happy about how activists have started using its golden arches logo to form the "m" in "democracy" on protest signs, Time reports. The company says protesters must "cease and refrain" using its logo or face "appropriate measures." (More Thailand stories.)

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