Thai Students Detained After Using Hunger Games-Inspired Salute in Silent Protest
In May, the ruling junta of Thailand warned that they would arrest anyone who used the three-fingered Hunger Games-inspired salute to protest the recent military coup. Now, they've followed through on their threats, as five students have been detained and taken to a military camp after using the salute as a form of silent resistance at a talk by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha.
On May 22, the Thai military seized control of the democratically-elected government, imposing martial law and "electing" junta leader Chan-Ocha Prime Minister by a military-appointed legislature. The new regime partially repealed the Constitution of the country, instituted an interim constitution granting itself amnesty and absolute power, and has been accused of a multitude of human rights violations, including the banning of political gatherings, censoring the internet, and generally restricting free speech. They also instituted a curfew, took control of the media, and arrested public figures and anti-coup activists. The junta has argued that their actions were necessary in order to bring stability to Thailand, and that they will eventually give power back to civilians, but have not set a timeline for their abdication.
Shortly after the coup, protesters started using the three-fingered salute from the Hunger Games trilogy, which is used in the novels and films to protest an authoritarian and corrupt government.
The protestors have also stated that the three fingers stand for the three ideals of the French Revolution: liberty, equality, and fraternity.
The students who brandished this salute at the Prime Minister were wearing T-shirts with the words, "No Coup," on them, and were detained in a military camp, but were not charged with anything, according to human rights lawyer Sasinan Thamnithinan. Many anti-coup activities have been criminalized since the military took power, including "liking" an anti-coup page on social media and reading George Orwell's 1984 in public.