November 20, 2104
(TheAntiMedia) KHON KAEN, THAILAND- Lionsgate Films’ newest installment of the Hunger Games franchise, the Mockingjay, has been banned by a Thai cinema chain. The ban follows a student protest where students against the military coup mimicked the Hunger Games salute of solidarity and resistance.
Apex Cinemas told the Bangkok Post that the company refused to play the film, explaining that
“We feel our theaters are being used for political movements.”
The League of Liberal Thammasat for Democracy, an anti-coup student group, had offered 160 free tickets to the film premiere to anyone who could answer the question:
“In what ways is the Capital in the Mockingjay similar to Bangkok?”
It is a question that can increasingly be asked of many capitals around the world.
Apex allegedly canceled the film after being tipped off to the contest by police. They told the Post it was not under any government pressure to do so and claim it had nothing to do with the arrests of anti-coup protesters.
The student arrests were sparked on Wednesday at an event where Thailand’s military dictator was speaking. General Prayut Chan-o-cha leads the military junta, which has been in charge of the country since the military’s most recent coup on May 22nd. It is the 18th military coup in Thailand since 1932.
Chan-o-cha was speaking in Khon Kaen, a region in northeastern Thailand. The students slipped into the event wearing shirts reading “We don’t want the coup,” making the three-finger salute before they were arrested. In the Hunger Games, it is a sign of dissent against the fictional, tyrannical government, Panem. According to the Post,
“Prayut appared to laugh off the challenge to his authority. ‘Well, that’s it. But it’s okay. Go easy on them. we will take care of the problems. Any more protests? Make them quick.'”
Sounding eerily like President Snow of Panem, the military dictator did not actually intend to go easy on the youths:
“The student demonstrators, identified later as Wasan Seksit, Jetsathit Namkot, Jatupat Boonpatraksa, Phayu Boonsophon and Wichakorn Anuchon, were grabbed by police and military security as they showed off their T-shirts and salutes. They were taken to the 23rd Military Circle’s Sri Patcharin base to undergo ‘attitude adjustment,’ according to officials.”
They were released but ordered to report back with their parents the following day to face charges of breaking martial law. Current reports differ on whether or not students signed an agreement to halt any political activities.
Later on Wednesday, Bangkok students were arrested for staging a protest in solidarity with the Khon Kaen saluters. The protest was disguised as a picnic, a common tactic to hide shows of dissent in Thailand.
The arrest of “dissident” students is nothing new. Time reported that the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights group
“has documented ‘hundreds, possibly thousands’ of people in the northeast who have been ‘summoned, monitored, followed and harassed by the military.”
ABC reported that:
“In June police arrested a lone student reading George Orwell’s anti-authoritarian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four and eating a sandwich, while others have previously been detained for displaying the three-fingered salute.”
The popularity of the Hunger Games book series and films highlights a silver lining in the midst of current world affairs. Its strong resonance with younger (and older) generations demonstrates the growing distrust and discontent toward government by citizens around the world.
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