Raise your hands - A look at 4 signs of protest

An anti-coup protester flashing the three-finger salute borrowed from the Hunger Games movies during a gathering at a shopping mall, which was broken up by security forces of Thailand's ruling junta. -- PHOTO: AFP
An anti-coup protester flashing the three-finger salute borrowed from the Hunger Games movies during a gathering at a shopping mall, which was broken up by security forces of Thailand's ruling junta. -- PHOTO: AFP

Over the course of history, people have shown that hand gestures have been powerful symbols that represent mass resistance, a rallying cry for change, as well as in support of causes they believe strongly about. Here are four of the most memorable. 

1. Hunger Games salute by Thai anti-coup protestors 

The precarious line between reel and real life blurred as anti-coup demonstrators, frustrated by the Thai junta's blanket ban on protests, adopted the three-finger salute from The Hunger Games films as a form of silent resistance.

In the film and book series, which tells of a dystopian, post-apocalyptic future, the country of Panem is ruled by the wealthy Capitol and surrounded by 12 poorer districts. The "Mockingjay" salute used by protaganist Katniss Everdeen (played by actress Jennifer Lawrence in the films) signifies rebellion against totalitarian rule.Thai protestors working as flash mobs have been displaying it prominently at Bangkok's central shopping districts as a sign of their protest against military oppression. 

While explanations vary over the true meaning of the gesture, it has gained sufficient traction to prompt the junta to monitor the movement and issue warnings.

2. Rabia sign 

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A gesture made by raising four fingers and folding the thumb, the Rabia sign - named after Rabia Square in Cairo, Egypt - was publicized widely on social media and even promoted by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan at one point. It is also commonly seen printed over a bright yellow background.

Primarly meant to express solidarity among protestors and politicians alike against the 2013 Egyptian coup d'état, which saw army chief general Abdel Fattah el-Sisi depose President Mohamed Morsi.

The move provoked a mass revolt, culminating in an anti-coup sit-in lasting 40 days that claimed the deaths of hundreds as Egyptian police aided by the military attempted to disperse the demonstrators by force.

3. Occupy Wall Street movement hand signals

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By far the most complicated, these hand signals form a system that allows for unified communication within a large crowd and prevent audio disruption. They consist of movements such as up and down twinkles (both hands raised either facing front or back with fingers pointing up or down and wiggling to signal agreement or disapproval), flat hands, wrap it up and raise the roof.

Occupy Wall Street was initiated in September 2011 in Zuccoti Park, located in New York City's famous financial district, as a clarion call against hot button issues such as social and economic inequality, greed and corruption, as well as a preceived undue influence of corporations on a government.

4. 1968 Olympics Black Power salute 

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US athletes Tommy Smith and John Carlos generated a maelstrom of controversy at the 1986 Olympic Games in Mexico as they attempted to make their stand against racism.

Having come in first and third respectively in the men's 200m race, the duo raised a clenched, black-gloved fist skywards and stared at the ground during the medal ceremoney as the American national anthem played in the background.

Smith and Carlos came in for severe criticism, although Smith later stated in his autobiography the gesture was meant as a human rights salute, and not a Black Power one. It is deemed one of the most symbolic sporting moments in history.