I kept expecting to find articles saying this was just a rumor but every source seems to be confirming: The pro-democracy Red Shirt protesters opposing the recent Yellow-aligned military coup in Thailand have officially adopted the defiant anti-authoritarian salute from the Hunger Games books and movies.
“Catching Fire,” the second movie in the franchise and perhaps the one most prominently featuring the salute, was released in November 2013 in Thailand, and became the country’s eighth highest grossing movie of last year. The first movie, released in March 2012, was in the top 20 that year.
The new military government and police forces have announced that the salute will be banned along with the already prohibited political gatherings of more than five people at a time.
Others joined small flash mobs, or stood alone, and flashed three fingers in the air.
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. A photo montage circulating online paired a picture from the science fiction blockbuster “The Hunger Games” with a graphic of three fingers labeled, 1. No Coup, 2. Liberty, 3. Democracy.
In the movie series and the book trilogy it is based on, 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 Thai 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. “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.