The three-finger gesture became a new symbol for anti-coup protesters on Sunday when they began playing cat-and-mouse games with the military.
Since the May 22 power seizure, anti-coup protesters have been using different symbols to show their opposition such as pointedly reading books on political subjects, covering their mouths or holding up blank pieces of paper to symbolise censorship.
The latest gesture – three fingers – was first used on Sunday by protesters at the Terminal 21 shopping centre in Asok, on the BTS skywalk near the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre and on the Lan Pho grounds in Thammasat University’s Tha Prachan campus.
When images of people holding up three fingers to show their opposition to the coup went viral, social-media users began changing their profile pictures to reflect the gesture.
Many people believe this symbolic gesture was inspired by the District 12 salute in “The Hunger Games”.
“The Hunger Games” film series, set in a post-apocalyptic, dystopian future, focuses on a 16-year-old girl called Katniss Everdeen, who hails from District 12 and adopts this three-figure salute in defiance of the authorities.
In the book, Everdeen explains the three-finger gesture “as an old and rarely used gesture of our district, occasionally seen at funerals. It means thanks, it means admiration, it means goodbye to someone you love”.
However, a definition on movies.stackexchange.com said Everdeen uses this symbol as a gesture to provoke riots against the Capitol – effectively a way for the citizens of the Districts, burdened with poverty, so say goodbye to the overbearing force and power of the Capitol.
Apart from “The Hunger Games”, some people have also tried to link the gesture to the French Revolution, saying it stands for the ideals of freedom, equality and fraternity.