Protesters in Thailand have rallied around a symbol of resistance that will be familiar to science fiction fans: the three-finger salute featured in The Hunger Games books and movies. As the Associated Press reports, some protesters have begun using the salute as a form of silent opposition to the national military, which seized power under a coup d'état on May 22nd.
The ruling military junta has gone to great lengths to stifle criticism since coming to power, banning public political gatherings of more than five people and shutting down some TV stations and websites. About 100 protesters began using the raised-arm salute in Bangkok over the weekend, and images soon spread across Twitter, despite the junta's media crackdown. The military says it has yet to decide on a response.
"At this point we are monitoring the movement," a junta spokesman told the AP. "If it is an obvious form of resistance, then we have to control it so it doesn't cause any disorder in the country."
Those involved in the movement gave differing explanations for its origin, and there appear to be different ways of making the salute. In The Hunger Games, the salute means thanks, admiration, and "goodbye to someone you love," and is represented as a form of resistance to oppressive rule. Speaking to the AP, some protesters cited the book and movie series, though others interpreted it as a symbol of France's tricolor flag — "liberty, equality, fraternity" — or of freedom, election, and democracy. Reporters have also noted the presence of George Orwell references in some demonstrations, including a "silent reading protest" where people gathered to read Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four and other books.
According to Reuters, some pro-military groups have begun appropriating the three-finger salute since it first emerged over the weekend. On social media, junta supporters have redesigned the trope, claiming that the three fingers represent the corruption, disrespect, and destruction that it blames on the outgoing government, which was overthrown after months of unrest.