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Thailand's junta warns over 'Hunger Games' salute

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.

Join the discussion

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wtrfrd June 03 2014 at 1:11 PM

I only use one finger to salute our government.

Flag Reply +66 rate up
18 replies
Tim Alexander June 03 2014 at 12:38 PM

Isn't that the boy scout salute?

Flag Reply +40 rate up
22 replies
jcbstz June 03 2014 at 12:50 PM

obama will soon declare that any folk who speak against him will be tossed in a correction camp. Then there will only be a handful of libbies on this site

Flag Reply +30 rate up
27 replies
ddlugin June 03 2014 at 12:56 PM

I have been in the Boy Scouts for 63 Years and always use the 3 fingers salute

Flag Reply +21 rate up
3 replies
calderasf June 03 2014 at 12:32 PM

Good for them however here they need to get rid of the corrupt family stealing the country blind.

Flag Reply +16 rate up
3 replies
Lonny June 03 2014 at 12:17 PM

"... during an anti-coup..."

I guess obama would pronounce that "coop".

Flag Reply +14 rate up
9 replies
jktkw June 03 2014 at 12:38 PM

unless I am wrong..this is the salute that the oy Scouts use!!!!

Flag Reply +14 rate up
1 reply
'57mad jktkw June 03 2014 at 2:39 PM

this is the salute they use to use before homosexuals were allowed to over-run it. you do know why they hold up three fingers while crossing their palm don't you. if not you should look it up on the net.

Scouts using the three-finger salute as the Scout Sign.
In his book, Scouting for Boys, Robert Baden-Powell chose the three-finger salute for Scouts to represent the three aspects of the Scout Promise:
1. Honour "God and the King" 2. Help Others3. Obey the Scout Law[1]

Flag Reply +8 rate up
bonitoking61 June 03 2014 at 12:38 PM

Corruption manufactures the poor in every country.

Flag Reply +8 rate up
1 reply
SweetfeetBaby bonitoking61 June 03 2014 at 9:24 PM

The poor manufacture themselves, and you know it.
Don't go to, or stay in school. Don't educate yourself. Don't make any effort at all to better yourself. Don't contribute to the betterment of your neighbors & your society.
Take everything you can from others, and squeal bloody murder that it's not enough.
Envy is a horrible, crippling emotion.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
4 replies
tfmac June 03 2014 at 12:34 PM

...a "coop" initiated by Navy "corpsemen" that has Thai-d up the government

Flag Reply +8 rate up
1 reply
Nancy tfmac June 03 2014 at 6:33 PM

Ha, ha, ha. Good one. LOL

Flag Reply 0 rate up
rdfarnham June 03 2014 at 12:56 PM

Interesting. That is the same salute we used to use in the Boy Scouts.

Flag Reply +7 rate up
1 reply
erinjanespca rdfarnham June 03 2014 at 4:50 PM

It's how it's done, it's different overall. I'm tired of commenting this over and over i"ll just give up after this lol

Flag Reply 0 rate up
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