In the Hunger Games world of Panem, the three-finger salute is the sign of defiance. In Thailand too, it has become a symbol of resistance against the military coup. And the authorities really don't like it.
The trend is catching fire, with flashmobs of dozens turning up to make the salute across Bangkok and posting pictures on social media. The crowd then quickly disperses before the authorities can stop them.
But arrests have already been made, with one viral video showing a woman being bundled into a car in the capital after making the gesture, according to a video on the Bangkok Post.
Members of Akbayan-Youth protest in front of the Royal Thai Embassy in Makati City (Southeast of Manila) to express their solidarity to the Thai people
Actors Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark (left), Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket and Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen in a scene from The Hunger Games
A spokesman for the military junta, Col. Weerachon Sukhondhapatipak, told the Associated Press: “We know it comes from the movie, and let’s say it represents resistance against the authorities.”
“If it is a political gathering of five people or more, then we will have to take some action,” he said.
"We are monitoring those who use this signal but have no plans to ban it yet," Winthai Suvaree, a spokesman for the military rulers, told Reuters. "But if there are gatherings of five people or more doing this salute, then we will make arrests in some cases."
In the books by Suzanne Collins – and movies starring Jennifer Lawrence - the wealthy elites of The Capitol rule over the impoverished in outer “districts.” A reality-TV style game show features "tributes" of teens from each of the 12 districts, who compete in a death match.
The salute "means thanks, it means admiration, it means goodbye to someone you love," according to the protagonist Katniss. In Thailand, it is a call for a return to democracy.
On Wednesday, the ruling Thai military, which carried out a bloodless coup on May 22nd, put on entertainment in the city, with food stalls serving free portions of omelette rice. An army band and uniformed singers entertained the crowd with popular and traditional songs, soldiers danced with civilians and army chiefs posed for photos.
The master of ceremonies, Sgt. Nimit Supphaprasirt of the Royal Thai Army band, deemed they were "bringing back happiness to the people. It’s for Thai people to be happy, to smile again. Today we soldiers, the police, all the armed forces - everyone, here is happy.