A group of Thai citizens gathered outside London's Odeon Cinema in Leicester Square on Monday, November 10, as the theater hosted the international premiere of “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1,” to draw attention to the real-life threats to democracy, the freedom of expression, and the rule of law in Thailand.
The film is significant for many Thais. Indeed, opponents of Thailand's recent coup, which displaced the democratically-elected government of Yingluck Shinawatra, have even adopted the movie's famous three-finger salute. The gesture has become so popular that the country's military junta actually banned it, along with several other forms of political dissent. Hundreds of Thais recently used the salute at the cremation ceremony for former Deputy House Speaker Apiwan Wiriyachai, greeting Yingluck Shinawatra with the three fingers, when she arrived to pay her respects.
Many of the activists in London this week wore masks, for fear of reprisals against their friends and families still in Thailand.
The activists set up a Facebook page and a Twitter account to coordinate their efforts, using the hashtag #DistrictThai. “District” is a reference to the plot of “The Hunger Games,” where a centralized, authoritarian dictatorship rules different geographic areas (“districts”). Most of the districts are impoverished and enslaved to the “Capital.”
Activists’ social media accounts are maintained in Thai and in English, serving audiences both at home in Thailand and around the world. The group's Facebook page was popular, attracting more than 1,000 “likes” in a single weekend. The first message appeared on Friday, November 7:
— ODEON (@ODEONCinemas) November 10, 2014