Thailand’s military officials announced they will arrest silent protesters using the three-fingered salute borrowed from “The Hunger Games” in opposition to the military coup.
The Royal Thai Armed Forces took over the government May 22, after six months of political upheaval. They established a junta called the National Council for Peace and Order to preside over the country.
The junta imposed a midnight to 4 a.m. curfew for the majority of the country, with the exception of the popular tourist resorts in Phuket, Koh Samui and Pattaya.
Military leaders sent nearly 6,000 soldiers to Bangkok Sunday to thwart a planned protest. They also established a law against gatherings of more than five people.
Protesters have gotten creative, staging flash demonstrations of just four people and using the Hunger Games salute in defiance of military rule, USA Today reported. A photo montage of the salute claims it means three things to protesters: 1- No Coup, 2- Liberty, 3- Democracy.
"At this point we are monitoring the movement," Col. Weerachon Sukhondhapatipak, a junta spokesman, 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."
"We know it comes from the movie, and let's say it represents resistance against the authorities," Sukhondhapatipak said.
He said individuals who make the salute will be asked 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 added.
Human Rights Watch said the junta’s actions reveal "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.