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Thai Coup Leaders Warn Against Making 'Hunger Games' Sign for Political Protest

  • VOA News

Protesters stand and take a photograph on a defaced poster of Thai Army Chief Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha during an anti-coup demonstration in Bangkok, Thailand, June 1, 2014.

Protesters stand and take a photograph on a defaced poster of Thai Army Chief Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha during an anti-coup demonstration in Bangkok, Thailand, June 1, 2014.

Thailand's military is threatening to arrest those using a three-fingered salute from "The Hunger Games" movies to express opposition to last month's coup.

Coup leaders have severely restricted freedom of expression and enforced a ban on gatherings of more than five people since taking power on May 22.

As a quiet symbol of defiance, many coup opponents have begun holding up three fingers, which in "The Hunger Games" symbolizes resistance against totalitarian rule.

An army spokesman said authorities are "monitoring" the campaign, warning those who flash the sign could face arrest if they do so in groups of more than five people.

Small demonstrations have persisted in the capital since army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha seized power, though there have been only small-scale clashes.

On Sunday, Thailand sent nearly 6,000 troops into the streets of Bangkok in a show of force against protesters who had planned major demonstrations.

Last week, General Prayuth said it would be up to 15 months before elections would be held and a new constitution set to replace the one he invalidated.

Prayuth said the coup was necessary to prevent violence and help advance reconciliation efforts following months of protests that saw nearly 30 people killed.

On Tuesday, the army said it has relaxed a curfew at the major tourist resorts of Pattaya, Koh Samui and Phuket. But a midnight to 4:00 am curfew remains for the rest of the country.

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