First Thailand, now Myanmar: Asia protesters borrow three-finger salute from Hunger Games

People give a three-finger salute after calls for protest went out on social media in Yangon on Feb 3, 2021. PHOTO: AFP

MANDALAY, MYANMAR (REUTERS) - Wearing face masks and red ribbons on their blue protective gowns, the group of Yangon medics raised three-finger salutes in a gesture of support for Myanmar's ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and defiance towards the leaders of a military coup.

In the country's second city Mandalay, the gesture was repeated by healthcare workers at a coronavirus treatment centre, some of whom held a banner that read: "We support civil disobedience movement."

Two senior members of Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy posted pictures of themselves making the same gesture on social media following Monday's takeover by the military.

The salute - three fingers pointing up with palm away from the body - stems from the popular Hunger Games movies, based on Suzanne Collins' dystopian novels.

But in recent years, it has been adopted by protesters against authoritarian rule in Asia.

Popularised by Jennifer Lawrence's character, Katniss Everdeen, in the Hunger Games the gesture became a symbol of the revolution and rebellion against totalitarian rule in fictional nation Panem.

It began appearing on the streets in 2014, when it was seized on by protesters in Thailand as a tactic to defy a ban on public gatherings imposed after a coup in May.

Later that year, young pro-democracy campaigners in Hong Kong also adopted the salute in their campaign for fully democratic elections.

The salute was widely seen again in Thailand - which shares a border with Myanmar and where many migrants from Myanmar work - last year, during months of protests calling for the removal of the government led by the 2014 coup leader and reforms to the monarchy.

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