In Thailand, Jennifer Lawrence and her cult favorite “Hunger Games” series are much more than pop culture phenomenons: They’re political icons.
Eight students in Thailand were detained by police for flashing a salute from “The Hunger Games” in protest of the military regime that currently controls the country, the Associated Press reported Thursday.
The three-finger salute was immortalized by Jennifer Lawrence’s character in the blockbuster movies, where the sign eventually becomes a symbol for rebellion against a tyrannical government. It is banned in Thailand, after protesters began using the salute to protest the May military coup.
On Wednesday, five students wore t-shirts that said “Don’t want a Coup” and flashed the salute at General Prayuth Chanocha. The normally prickly military dictator responded with a smile, asking: “Anyone else want to protest? Come quickly. Then I can continue with my speech.” They were quickly detained by police.
On Thursday, at least three more were arrested for flashing it at a theater and promotional billboard for the franchise’s latest film “Mockingjay—Part 1.”
One activist who was later detained was photographed and tweeted by a Human Rights Watch researcher.
The premiere of the latest movie—which depicts the fictionalized country rising up against its tyrannical government—was pulled from Thailand’s main theater, Apex, saying they felt the theaters “are being used for political movements,” a spokesman told the Bangkok post. Where the film is still being played, police presence is expected to be significant.
The military seized power of Thailand in late May, after courts removed the sitting Prime Minister for abuse of power, prompting an outbreak of protest. The military intervened, taking control of the country and promising to restore the political system. That hasn’t yet happened. Initial protests were stomped out by a police and army crackdown that killed dozens of protestors, but in recent days there has been a small surge of demonstrations. The protesters have used pop-culture—and particularly the “Hunger Games”—to spread messages of resistance.