By Anna O'brian
As its readers know, The Hunger Games’ three-finger salute is a symbol of silent rebellion. This simple action ignited an uprising in Panem and is now being adopted by Thai political activists.
Katniss Everdeen, the main character in The Hunger Games series, originally raises three fingers after the death of a close ally, Rue, in the arena where 24 teenagers battle until only one remains. The salute communicates admiration, appreciation and a farewell to Rue’s district and family. However, once Kat- niss and her comrade Peeta defy the Capitol, the three- fingered salute becomes a symbol of rebellion against the Capitol’s totalitarian rule.
In late May, a coup was declared in Thailand to bring down the regime of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Army Chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha declared martial law, according to cnn. com. On June 1, authorities deployed nearly 6,000 soldiers and police in Bangkok to prevent planned protest. Amid the heavy security, protesters decided to turn to silent rebellion, in the form of The Hunger Games’ salute. In response, military rulers said they would monitor the resis- tance and arrest those in large groups who ignored warnings to lower their arms, according to nbcnews.com.
After several months of unrest, many Thai protesters have used the film release of Mockingjay: Part 1 to regain support. Since staging its coup, the military has prohibited any political gatherings of more than five people and tried to enforce a ban on criticism of the coup by closing politically affiliated television stations and blocking websites, according to nbc- news.com.
This wasn’t as successful as the government hoped. The League of Liberal Thammasat for Democracy, an anti-coup group, said online it would give out 160 free tickets for the premiere of Mockingjay: Part 1 in exchange for political support. It called its efforts, “Raise Three Fingers, Bring Popcorn and Go to Theatre.” Additionally, a photo montage circulating online paired a picture from The Hunger Games with a graphic of three fingers labeled, “1. No Coup. 2. Liberty, 3. Democracy,” according to nbcnews.com.
Multiple Thai cinemas refused to screen Mockingjay: Part 1 in the fear it would encourage protest. Additionally, five people were arrested for using the three-finger salute during a speech by Prayuth on Nov. 18, according to nbcnews.com.
All this suggests that fictional stories can be powerful influences and compan- ions to real-life actions; the novel has affected not only individuals, but nations. The Hunger Games franchise has indirectly encouraged protest. Now, protesters hope that the fate of Thailand does not imitate the nation of Panem and that this silent rebellion will be heard.