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‘Hunger Games’ Salute Gives Hope to Democracy Activists in Thailand

In an image resonant of a Hollywood movie, attendees at the cremation of former deputy House speaker Apiwan Wiriyachai held up the three-finger salute to the former Prime Minister of the country Yingluck Shinawatra, in what could be seen as a silent message of hope for Thailand.

Please know : there are still many anti-coup Thais who refuse to be oppressed by the military

The image, which was originally posted on the BBC Thailand Facebook page has been shared on that platform over 650 times and shared on Twitter over 70 times, including re-tweets from Thais with large followings such as @toyubomm. The BBC set up this Facebook page in an effort to avoid the systematic attack on the rule of law and liberties which followed May’s coup, including the banning of political gatherings and arresting and detaining hundreds of politicians and anti-coup activists.

The raised armed salute, inspired by the fantasy blockbuster “The Hunger Games,” has been appropriated as the unofficial symbol of anti-coup activists and supporters of the pro-democracy movement.

This activity on Facebook and Twitter occurs at a time of increasing tension in the country, as the military junta continues its massive crackdown of online speech and personal expression in the country. Having taken measures to censor citizens on social media and block hundreds of offensive websites, including the UK’s Daily Mail website, in the past week one of the major political blogs in Thailand on the Asian Correspondent website, Bangkok Pundit, announced that it is going on hiatus as a result of “the constrained environment of commenting publicly about Thai politics in the immediate aftermath of the coup.”

Whilst the closure of the anonymous blog is another set-back for the freedom of expression of the Thai people, images such as the three-fingered salute being shared on social media provide a small glimmer of hope for the future of this once open and democratic country. 

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