CATCHING FIRE

Thai coup protesters have adopted the Hunger Games’ three-fingered salute

At demonstrations against Thailand’s military government continued this weekend, protesters unveiled their newest tactic: Appropriating the three-fingered salute from the Hunger Games, which the movies’ downtrodden citizens use as a silent rebuke to their dystopian government.

A protester against military rule gestures by holding up his three middle fingers in the air, as soldiers look on from an elevated walkway, during a brief demonstration outside a shopping mall in Bangkok June 1, 2014.  Thailand's military government sent thousands of troops and police into central Bangkok on Sunday to stop any demonstrations against its seizure of power, and some shopping malls and train stations closed to avoid trouble.  According to some, the three fingered gesture stood for freedom, equality and brotherhood. REUTERS/Erik De Castro (THAILAND - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST) - RTR3ROLR
“I volunteer as tribute!” (Reuters/Erik De Castro)

Ever since the Thai military seized power last month, protesters have been using social media to organize hit-and-run demonstrations in Bangkok, and on Sunday they made a last-minute change of venue, gathering at the downtown shopping district’s Terminal 21 mall. They were opposed by hundreds of soldiers and police, who have mobilized at possible protest sites around the city to pre-empt large-scale demonstrations. At least four people were arrested, including one woman who was dragged into a taxi by undercover police after giving the three-finger salute.

Armed with shields, Thai soldiers guard on an overpass to prevent anti-coup demonstration in Bangkok, Thailand Sunday, June 1, 2014. An anti-coup activist in Thailand called Friday for a weekend rally to defy the military government's ban on demonstrations, urging those opposed to the takeover to wear masks and be ready for cat-and-mouse chases with soldiers in the capital. (AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn)
Not in a Hunger Games kind of mood. (AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn)

Thais are avid consumers of pop culture, including the Hunger Games movies, so it’s not surprising that they have chosen to use the salute favored by cinematic heroine Katniss Everdeen. Adding to the cultural mash-up, protesters on Sunday said the three fingers stand for liberty, brotherhood, and equality—a slogan associated with the French Revolution that is now the official motto of France.

Anti-coup protesters wear paper bags with messages written on them as they flash a three-finger sign during a protest at a shopping mall in Bangkok June 1, 2014. Thailand's military government sent thousands of troops and police into central Bangkok on Sunday to stop any demonstrations against its seizure of power, and some shopping malls and train stations closed to avoid trouble. A group of about 30 people protested inside the Terminal 21 mall in the Asoke area. Most were signalling their opposition to the coup by holding three middle fingers of one hand up in the air, which some said stood for freedom, equality and brotherhood.    REUTERS/Damir Sagolj (THAILAND - Tags: SOCIETY CIVIL UNREST MILITARY) - RTR3ROKE
Cat, or Katniss? (REUTERS/Damir Sagolj)
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