Thai student protestors arrested for “Hunger Games” salute

The reaping.
The reaping.
Image: Reuters/Erik De Castro
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Five student protestors were arrested in Thailand today for holding up the three-fingered “Mockingjay” salute, which opponents to the country’s military junta have adopted from The Hunger Games as a symbol of their resistance.

In May, a coup led by the commander of the Royal Thai Army Prayuth Chan-ocha overthrew the Thai government and declared martial law. Chan-ocha is now prime minister of Thailand after his hand-picked legislature elected him. Among the ruling junta’s reforms? Banning the Hunger Games salute.

The five university students were detained when they made the gesture in front of Prayuth, who was visiting the northeastern province of Khon Kaen to observe the drought situation there. The students were then taken to a military camp.

This is certainly not the first time protestors have been inspired by pop culture. The Guy Fawkes mask popularized by the 2006 film V for Vendetta is often donned by members of the hacktivist group Anonymous and supporters of the Occupy movement and similar anti-establishment groups. And in Hong Kong, pro-democracy demonstrators in the Umbrella Movement have adopted “Do You Hear the People Sing” from Les Miserables as their anthem.

A spokesman for the junta told the Associated Press that a single individual doing the salute would not be arrested, but “five or more” saluting simultaneously is considered an illegal demonstration, and thus would be grounds for arrest.

The film series’ penultimate installment, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay—Part 1 opens in Thailand tomorrow.