Myanmar doctors deploy ‘Hunger Games’ salute in protest against military coup

After being banned in Thailand, the Hunger Games salute has been picked up by protesters in Myanmar 

Yangon residents in noisy protest against Myanmar coup

Doctors and pro-democracy protesters in Myanmar raised their hands in three-finger salute, a gesture of rebellion inspired from The Hunger Games movies, to protest against the military coup that ousted the country’s democratically elected government.  

The gesture of resistance against tyranny was first invoked in real life from the silver screen during demonstrations in neighbouring Thailand against a military coup in 2014.  So much so, that it was banned by military in Thailand to silence criticism.

In Myanmar, civilians in the country have been raising their voices against the army rule by taking part in civil disobedience campaigns and banging pots and pans from their houses, a symbolic gesture to drive away evil, since the coup on February 1.

Doctors and medical staff at Yangon General Hospital posed, raising three fingers in a muted defiance. Health workers also staged protests at dozens of hospitals by walking out of hospitals on Wednesday.

As the military took control of the government, tanks and other military vehicles rolled through the streets of major cities. A one-year state of emergency has been declared, with all domestic and international flights grounded until June.

State Counsellor Aung Suu Kyi, who was detained along with President Win Myint during a series of raids, has been charged for illegal possession of illegally imported walkie-talkies and for shaking hands during the pandemic. Her National League for Democracy (NLD) party swept the vote and the military-backed party did poorly.

Myanmar women flash the three finger salute as they protest against the Coup in Yangon, Myanmar, 04 February 2021

On Thursday, the military ordered internet service providers to temporarily block access to Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp to curb calls for protest. Myanmar’s Ministry of Transport and Communications sent a notice to telecommunications companies to block Facebook and its services till 7 February to maintain “stability” in the country.

The first street protest was organized by people in the city of Mandalay on Thursday where people raised slogans: “Our arrested leaders: release now, release now”. The military was, however, swift in chasing away the protesters.

The popularity of the Hunger Games salute has gained momentum in Asia after it was first invoked in Thailand and from there, it spread to Hong Kong.

File photo: Pro-democracy protesters chant slogans as they imitate a three-finger salute from movie "The Hunger Games" during a confrontation with the police at Mongkok shopping district in Hong Kong

But it is not the only way people have adopted to protest taking inspiration from popular culture. The Thai protesters dressed up in Harry Potter costumes and as popular Japanese cartoon characters like Hamtaro and Naruto. 

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