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  • Myanmar has been rocked with mass protests since its military coups, and this is one of the movement's defining symbols.

  • But we've also seen it elsewhere in recent years, most notably in Thailand.

  • So where did it come from?

  • And why does it resonate so powerfully in this part of the world?

  • Well, the symbol comes from the 2014 era movies and books - The Hunger Games.

  • In Thailand and Myanmar, they have become a symbol of protest of both military backed governments.

  • It can mean a lot of different things, a symbol of the French revolution, equality, liberty.

  • It could mean democracy and freedom, political equality.

  • For Bangkok, the May 2014 coup d'état occurred at a time when one of the sequels was actually playing in movie theaters, and within days, people began gathering at shopping malls, the sky train and flashing that symbol.

  • Thailand and Myanmar have a great degree of connectivity.

  • The people of Myanmar are familiar with this symbol, and there's a kind of first reaction to the February 1st coup d'état. This is the first thing that probably came to mind.

  • On the film, it's a symbol of a people struggling against a totalitarian dictatorship for Southeast Asia.

  • They have had their fair share of military regimes of oppression, inequality, the punishment of dissent.

  • The Hunger Games' salute speaks to what they know.

  • You're willing to be brave.

  • You're willing to stand up for what you believe in.

  • Asia, seen through Western lands, it's often misunderstood. By using a symbol that is popularly understood in the West and then globally,

  • it's a way of encouraging people to make that connection between something they do understand, which is Hunger Games, and try to start to say, "Wait a minute.

  • Is that also what's going on in Myanmar?"

  • So, absolutely, it is a way to draw attention around an issue.

  • These gestures don't come out of nowhere.

  • They don't resonate for no reason, and it's because they have deep histories.

  • Literally, it resembles the scouting movement science. This gesture that carries with it a long history of social solidarity of change, of, you know, being true to one's values, whether fiction or reality, it's a dangerous symbol.

  • It's a symbol that can be met with tremendous repression.

  • Symbols have a long role in social movements, especially hand gestures. Say, they often touch core emotions, can often give fuel during incredibly difficult and dangerous times.

  • When we think about peace signs or the raised fist, to see it in action is people saying, "We are standing together.

  • We identify with this movement."

  • The additional power of the symbol is just how practical it is, right? When you're just raising a hand and raising your fingers, it's almost as simple as it gets. It said something that you carry with you.

  • You can take it down quickly and you can take a selfie.

  • You can post drawings that allows the images to disseminate and go viral.

  • If the thing that this meme represents is something deeper, if it's a deeper societal issue, it's very unlikely for it to go away until the society changes.

  • And until we start to see actual changes on the ground, I suspect we will see this symbol not just resonate in Southeast Asia, but to actually start to be picked up around the world.

  • I mean, that's, you know, both the story of the power of fiction and the story of the power of social movements to turn fiction into reality and help us all, kind of, understand the story behind people suffering, behind people's challenges.

Myanmar has been rocked with mass protests since its military coups, and this is one of the movement's defining symbols.

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Hunger Games salute used for Asia protests - BBC News

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    林宜悉 posted on 2021/03/17
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