Thailand's junta warns over 'Hunger Games' salute

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Thailand's junta warns over 'Hunger Games' Salute
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Thailand's junta warns over 'Hunger Games' salute
Nachacha Kongudom, 21, raises a three-finger salute outside a cinema where “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1” is showing, in Bangkok, Thailand, Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014. Police detained three students Thursday at the opening of the latest "Hunger Games" movie in Thailand, where opponents of May’s military coup have adopted the film’s three-finger salute as a sign of defiance. The military-imposed government has banned the gesture, which symbolizes rebellion against totalitarian rule in the film series. One cinema chain in the country's capital canceled all screenings of the movie ahead of its Thursday opening after a student group planned an anti-coup protest outside one of its theaters. Activists say police pressured the chain to halt the showings. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
Thai policemen stand guard outside a cinema hall ahead of a planned anti-coup protest in Bangkok on November 20, 2014. Thai police said they have detained three university students from outside Bangkok cinemas on November 20 as at least two theatres cancelled opening screenings of 'The Hunger Games' in the junta-ruled nation. AFP PHOTO/Christophe ARCHAMBAULT (Photo credit should read CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT/AFP/Getty Images)
A Thai student flashes a three-finger salute, an unofficial symbol of resistance against the army's May coup, at a cinema hall in Bangkok on November 20, 2014. Thai police said they have detained three university students from outside Bangkok cinemas on November 20 as at least two theatres cancelled opening screenings of 'The Hunger Games' in the junta-ruled nation. AFP PHOTO/Christophe ARCHAMBAULT (Photo credit should read CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT/AFP/Getty Images)
A Thai student (C) holds her arms up as she is escorted out of a cinema hall by plainclothes police officers in Bangkok on November 20, 2014. Thai police said they have detained three university students from outside Bangkok cinemas on November 20 as at least two theatres cancelled opening screenings of 'The Hunger Games' in the junta-ruled nation. AFP PHOTO/Christophe ARCHAMBAULT (Photo credit should read CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT/AFP/Getty Images)
A Thai student (C) is escorted out of a cinema hall by plainclothes police officers after she flashed a three-finger salute, an unofficial symbol of resistance against the army's May coup, in Bangkok on November 20, 2014. Thai police said they have detained three university students from outside Bangkok cinemas on November 20 as at least two theatres cancelled opening screenings of 'The Hunger Games' in the junta-ruled nation. AFP PHOTO/Christophe ARCHAMBAULT (Photo credit should read CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT/AFP/Getty Images)
A Thai student flashes a three-finger salute, an unofficial symbol of resistance against the army's May coup, as she stands by a poster of the latest Hunger Games film, at a cinema hall in Bangkok on November 20, 2014. Thai police said they have detained three university students from outside Bangkok cinemas on November 20 as at least two theatres cancelled opening screenings of 'The Hunger Games' in the junta-ruled nation. AFP PHOTO/Christophe ARCHAMBAULT (Photo credit should read CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT/AFP/Getty Images)
A Thai student (C) flashes a three-finger salute, an unofficial symbol of resistance against the army's May coup, as she is escorted out of a cinema hall by plainclothes female police officers in Bangkok on November 20, 2014. Thai police said they have detained three university students from outside Bangkok cinemas on November 20 as at least two theatres cancelled opening screenings of 'The Hunger Games' in the junta-ruled nation. AFP PHOTO/Christophe ARCHAMBAULT (Photo credit should read CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT/AFP/Getty Images)
In this Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014 photo, Thai student activists raise the three-fingered salute in front of Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha as he speaks in Khon Kaen province, northeast of Bangkok, Thailand. Five university students were arrested after giving the salute during the speech by Prayuth who led the coup as army commander. The military-imposed government banned the gesture, which symbolizes rebellion against totalitarian rule in the "Hunger Games" movie series. One cinema chain in Thailand's capital canceled all screenings of the movie ahead of its Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014 opening after a student group planned an anti-coup protest outside one of its theaters. (AP Photo/Bangkok Post) THAILAND OUT
Activists show tickets of “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1” to distribute free to passers-by in front of the movie's billboard, in Bangkok, Thailand, Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014. Police detained three students Thursday at the opening of the latest "Hunger Games" movie in Thailand, where opponents of May’s military coup have adopted the film’s three-finger salute as a sign of defiance. The military-imposed government has banned the gesture, which symbolizes rebellion against totalitarian rule in the film series. One cinema chain in the country's capital canceled all screenings of the movie ahead of its Thursday opening after a student group planned an anti-coup protest outside one of its theaters. Activists say police pressured the chain to halt the showings. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
Nachacha Kongudom, 21, raises a three-finger salute outside a cinema where “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1” is showing, in Bangkok, Thailand, Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014. Police detained three students Thursday at the opening of the latest "Hunger Games" movie in Thailand, where opponents of May’s military coup have adopted the film’s three-finger salute as a sign of defiance. The military-imposed government has banned the gesture, which symbolizes rebellion against totalitarian rule in the film series. One cinema chain in the country's capital canceled all screenings of the movie ahead of its Thursday opening after a student group planned an anti-coup protest outside one of its theaters. Activists say police pressured the chain to halt the showings. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
Nachacha Kongudom, 21, raises a three-fingered salute outside a cinema where “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1” is showing, in Bangkok, Thailand, Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014. Police detained three students Thursday at the opening of the latest "Hunger Games" movie in Thailand, where opponents of May’s military coup have adopted the film’s three-finger salute as a sign of defiance. The military-imposed government has banned the gesture, which symbolizes rebellion against totalitarian rule in the film series. One cinema chain in the country's capital canceled all screenings of the movie ahead of its Thursday opening after a student group planned an anti-coup protest outside one of its theaters. Activists say police pressured the chain to halt the showings. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
Nachacha Kongudom raises a three-finger salute as she is detained by plainclothes policewomen outside a cinema where “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1” is showing, in Bangkok, Thailand, Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014. Police detained three students Thursday at the opening of the latest "Hunger Games" movie in Thailand, where opponents of May’s military coup have adopted the film’s three-finger salute as a sign of defiance. The military-imposed government has banned the gesture, which symbolizes rebellion against totalitarian rule in the film series. One cinema chain in the country's capital canceled all screenings of the movie ahead of its Thursday opening after a student group planned an anti-coup protest outside one of its theaters. Activists say police pressured the chain to halt the showings. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
Nachacha Kongudom, 21, raises a three-finger salute outside a cinema where “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1” is showing, in Bangkok, Thailand, Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014. Police detained three students Thursday at the opening of the latest "Hunger Games" movie in Thailand, where opponents of May’s military coup have adopted the film’s three-finger salute as a sign of defiance. The military-imposed government has banned the gesture, which symbolizes rebellion against totalitarian rule in the film series. One cinema chain in the country's capital canceled all screenings of the movie ahead of its Thursday opening after a student group planned an anti-coup protest outside one of its theaters. Activists say police pressured the chain to halt the showings. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
A protester flashes three fingers, representing liberty, brotherhood and equality, during an anti-coup demonstration at a shopping mall in Bangkok, Thailand Sunday, June 1, 2014. Hundreds of demonstrators shouting "Freedom!" and "Democracy!" gathered Sunday near a major shopping mall in downtown Bangkok to denounce the country's May 22 coup despite a lockdown by soldiers of some of the city's major intersections. (AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn)
Protesters raise three fingers, representing liberty, brotherhood and equality, during an anti-coup demonstration in Bangkok, Thailand Sunday, June 1, 2014. Hundreds of demonstrators shouting "Freedom!" and "Democracy!" gathered Sunday near a major shopping mall in downtown Bangkok to denounce the country's May 22 coup despite a lockdown by soldiers of some of the city's major intersections. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
Protesters flash three fingers, representing liberty, brotherhood and equality, and shouts during an anti-coup demonstration at an overpass in Bangkok, Thailand Sunday, June 1, 2014. Hundreds of demonstrators shouting "Freedom!" and "Democracy!" gathered Sunday near a major shopping mall in downtown Bangkok to denounce the country's May 22 coup despite a lockdown by soldiers of some of the city's major intersections. (AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn)
Protesters show three fingers represent liberty, brotherhood and equality during an anti-coup demonstration in Bangkok, Thailand Sunday, June 1, 2014. Hundreds of demonstrators shouting "Freedom!" and "Democracy!" gathered Sunday near a major shopping mall in downtown Bangkok to denounce the country's May 22 coup despite a lockdown by soldiers of some of the city's major intersections.(AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
Protester raise three fingers representing liberty, brotherhood and equality during an anti-coup demonstration in Bangkok, Thailand, Sunday, June 1, 2014. Hundreds of demonstrators shouting "Freedom!" and "Democracy!" gathered Sunday near a major shopping mall in downtown Bangkok to denounce the country's May 22 coup despite a lockdown by soldiers of some of the city's major intersections.(AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
In this Sunday, June 1, 2014 photo, an anti-coup protester gives a three-finger salute as soldiers keep eyes on him from an elevated walkway near a rally site in central Bangkok, Thailand. Thailand's military rulers say they are monitoring the new form of silent resistance to the coup - borrowed from "The Hunger Games" - and will arrest those in large groups who ignore warnings to lower their arms. The raised arm salute has become an unofficial symbol of opposition to Thailand's May 22 coup, and a creative response to several bans the ruling junta has placed on freedom of expression. Some protesters in Thailand say it represents: liberty, equality, fraternity. (AP Photo/Thanyarat Doksone)
Protesters show three fingers representing liberty, brotherhood and equality during an anti-coup demonstration in Bangkok, Thailand Sunday, June 1, 2014. Hundreds of demonstrators shouting "Freedom!" and "Democracy!" gathered Sunday near a major shopping mall in downtown Bangkok to denounce the country's May 22 coup despite a lockdown by soldiers of some of the city's major intersections.(AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
Protesters show three fingers representing liberty, brotherhood and equality during an anti-coup demonstration in Bangkok, Thailand Sunday, June 1, 2014. inside shopping mall in downtown Bangkok to denounce the country's May 22 coup despite a lockdown by soldiers of some of the city's major intersections.(AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
A protester wearing a mask shows three fingers representing liberty, brotherhood and equality during an anti-coup demonstration in Bangkok, Thailand Sunday, June 1, 2014. Hundreds of demonstrators shouting "Freedom!" and "Democracy!" gathered Sunday near a major shopping mall in downtown Bangkok to denounce the country's May 22 coup despite a lockdown by soldiers of some of the city's major intersections.(AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
Protesters show three fingers representing liberty, brotherhood and equality during an anti-coup demonstration in Bangkok, Thailand Sunday, June 1, 2014. Hundreds of demonstrators shouting "Freedom!" and "Democracy!" gathered Sunday inside major shopping mall in downtown Bangkok to denounce the country's May 22 coup despite a lockdown by soldiers of some of the city's major intersections.(AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
Thai soldiers guard at a convenience store to prevent anti-coup demonstration at Victory Monument Tuesday, June 3, 2014 in Bangkok, Thailand. Thailand's military rulers said Tuesday they are monitoring a new form of silent resistance to the coup - a three-fingered salute borrowed from "The Hunger Games" - and will arrest those in large groups who ignore warnings to lower their arms.(AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
Thai police officers leave Victory Monument after they finish guarding inside it Tuesday, June 3, 2014 in Bangkok. Thailand's military rulers said Tuesday they are monitoring a new form of silent resistance to the coup - a three-fingered salute borrowed from "The Hunger Games" - and will arrest those in large groups who ignore warnings to lower their arms.(AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
Thai female soldiers entertain passers by while providing security at the Victory Monument in Bangkok, Thailand Tuesday, June 3, 2014. Thailand's military rulers say they are monitoring a new form of silent resistance to the coup - a three-fingered salute borrowed from "The Hunger Games" - and will arrest those in large groups who ignore warnings to lower their arms. (AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn)
Thai police officers leave Victory Monument after they finish guarding inside it Tuesday, June 3, 2014 in Bangkok. Thailand's military rulers said Tuesday they are monitoring a new form of silent resistance to the coup - a three-fingered salute borrowed from "The Hunger Games" - and will arrest those in large groups who ignore warnings to lower their arms.(AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
A woman, center, takes photograph with Thai soldiers providing security at the Victory Monument in Bangkok, Thailand Tuesday, June 3, 2014. Thailand's military rulers say they are monitoring a new form of silent resistance to the coup - a three-fingered salute borrowed from "The Hunger Games" - and will arrest those in large groups who ignore warnings to lower their arms. (AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn)
Thai soldiers entertain passers by while providing security at the Victory Monument in Bangkok, Thailand Tuesday, June 3, 2014. Thailand's military rulers say they are monitoring a new form of silent resistance to the coup - a three-fingered salute borrowed from "The Hunger Games" - and will arrest those in large groups who ignore warnings to lower their arms. (AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn)
A mother, left, takes photograph of her son and Thai soldiers providing security at Victory Monument in Bangkok, Thailand Tuesday, June 3, 2014. Thailand's military rulers say they are monitoring a new form of silent resistance to the coup - a three-fingered salute borrowed from "The Hunger Games" - and will arrest those in large groups who ignore warnings to lower their arms. (AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn)
Passers by hand food and drinks to Thai soldiers providing security at Victory Monument in Bangkok, Thailand Tuesday, June 3, 2014. Thailand's military rulers say they are monitoring a new form of silent resistance to the coup - a three-fingered salute borrowed from "The Hunger Games" - and will arrest those in large groups who ignore warnings to lower their arms. (AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn)
A Thai soldier salutes while providing security at Victory Monument in Bangkok, Thailand Tuesday, June 3, 2014. Thailand's military rulers say they are monitoring a new form of silent resistance to the coup - a three-fingered salute borrowed from "The Hunger Games" - and will arrest those in large groups who ignore warnings to lower their arms. (AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn)
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BANGKOK (AP) - Thailand's military rulers said Tuesday they are monitoring a new form of silent resistance to the coup - a three-fingered salute borrowed from "The Hunger Games" - and will arrest those in large groups who ignore warnings to lower their arms.

Despite the warning to protesters, the junta offered a reprieve to the country's vital tourism industry. It lifted the military's curfew at three popular beach resorts - Phuket, Koh Samui and Pattaya - to ease the impact of the May 22 coup on tourists.

A midnight-to-4 a.m. curfew remained in effect for the rest of the country, including Bangkok, where the raised arm salute was unveiled over the weekend as an unofficial symbol of opposition to the coup.

"At this point we are monitoring the movement," Col. Weerachon Sukhondhapatipak, a spokesman for the junta, told The Associated Press. "If it is an obvious form of resistance, then we have to control it so it doesn't cause any disorder in the country."

Since staging its bloodless coup, the military has prohibited 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 hundreds of websites.

On Sunday, authorities deployed nearly 6,000 soldiers and police in Bangkok to prevent planned protests against the coup. Amid the heavy security, creative forms of protest emerged. Some people wore masks as they walked through a central shopping district. 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.

Human Rights Watch criticized the warning, saying it revealed "a mindset that views human rights with disdain, and sees youthful defiance as the enemy."

"The Thai military's assault on basic human rights has apparently grown to not only target peaceful protesters but now also silent ones as well - since now just holding up an arm with a three-finger salute is enough to earn the junta's ire," said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

Social activist Sombat Boonngam-anong, who has helped organize anti-coup protests, posted an explanation of the salute on his Facebook page along with a call to step up the silent acts of defiance.

"Raising three fingers has become a symbol in calling for fundamental political rights," wrote Sombat, a member of the "Red Shirt" protest movement that had backed the now-ousted government and warned it would take action if there was a coup. He called on people to raise "3 fingers, 3 times a day" - at 9 a.m., 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. - in safe public places where no police or military are present.

"Let's escalate the anti-coup movement three times a day together," he said, stipulating that protesters should raise their right arm and stay still for 30 seconds.

Thailand has been calm since the army overthrew the nation's elected government on May 22, saying it had to restore order after seven months of demonstrations that had triggered sporadic violence and left the country's political rivals in a stalemate.
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