by Kat Connelly

Recognize this symbol from “The Hunger Games”?

Thailand Protesters are seen using the infamous "Hunger Games" three finger gesture to show their silent opposition to the recent military coup.
Thai protesters are seen using the infamous “Hunger Games” three finger gesture to show their silent opposition to the recent military coup.

News Flash:

As of the beginning of July, any actions which represent a sign of resistance against the military (which include using the Hunger Games hand gesture) have been deemed illegal by the coup (Source: VICE NEWS).  For more details, watch The Junta’s Police State: Thailand on the Brink (Dispatch 5)

Protesters have been using the three finger salute to show political opposition in Thailand. Well known pop culture references have been used before in protests but this is a first for the “Hunger Games” gesture.

Since the end of May, Thai citizens have been undergoing serious restrictions on their freedom because of a military coup.  Many activists and politicians have been arrested and detained, as well as widespread control of media and internet censorship.

Throughout the “Hunger Game” series, the symbol is used for different reasons, such as admiration or remembrance of someone who has passed away.  However, its most commonly known as a sign of resistance against an oppressive government, especially when used by the main character Katniss.  It makes sense then, that Thai people would chose this symbol to reflect their own struggles of oppression.

In researching the use of the salute, I came across an NPR mention of one specific organizer, Sombat Boonngam-anong, who used social media in order to encourage protesters to use the salute at different times of the day in public areas where they know there are no police or military personnel around.

The main character Katniss and her partner Peeta show the three finger salute as they are chosen to represent their district for the Hunger Games again.
The main character Katniss and her partner Peeta show the three finger salute as they are chosen to represent their district for the Hunger Games. The Games are  a competition between pairs of teenagers where only one team wins and lives, for a second time.

Thai protesters have been citing the gesture to mean different things.  Some say it represents freedom, democracy and liberty, others reference the universal ideals of the French Revolution, which are liberty, equality and fraternity.  A recent image online put together a montage of “No Coup, Liberty and Democracy” with a “Hunger Games” photo.

Pop culture symbols can be powerful to an advocacy campaign because of their visibility and immediate recognition. I’ve put together this short list of suggestions on how the “Hunger Games” sign could be used for a campaign:

  • Harness its simplicity and international recognition as a sign of resistance, activism or searching for justice;
  • Customize the sign by tagging three words or phrases which reflect one’s mission statement or cause to represent each finger;
  • Use in large crowds where it can be spread quickly from person to person.

Putting aside the possible following of movie fanatics, do you think the three finger satire would be effective to bring about real awareness for your activist campaign?

[ Featured image is screenshot of a video ]

***

Kat Connelly is a rising junior at the University of Connecticut pursuing a double major in Communication and Human Rights. She is an intern with WITNESS’ Engagement Team.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.