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What Does The Three-Finger Salute Mean?

February 19, 2021

Have you ever seen The Hunger Games movies or read the books? If not, we don’t want to ruin it for you, but the story is basically about the rich versus the poor, the powerful versus the weak, and what happens when people come together to defy those in charge. As the story progresses, the three-finger salute used in one of the districts as a sign of thank you, becomes a symbol of solidarity and defiance for all of the twelve districts. Intriguing? Absolutely.

Myanmar Protesters
By VOA Burmese – https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?id=36235438073&story_fbid=10158479209753074, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=99815458

In 2014, Thailand’s military took over the government in a coup. Protesters swarmed the streets and raised their hand in a three-finger salute just like the characters did in The Hunger Games. While the gesture was later banned in the country, the three-finger salute didn’t go away. In fact, the three-finger salute would be seen in future protests, becoming a symbol of solidarity, equality, freedom, and the anti-coup movement. But the three-finger salute didn’t just become a symbol of freedom in Thailand. Earlier this month, the Myanmar military took over the ruling Myanmar government in a coup. The leader of Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi, and other top government officials were detained by the military. Since then, the people of Myanmar have been protesting the move and protesters have been raising the three-finger salute as a form of solidarity and defiance. What will happen next in Myanmar? Like many political protests, we’ll have to wait and see.

If you’re unfamiliar with the country of Myanmar, here are some facts about the country.

Map of Myanmar
Aotearoa, CC BY-SA 3.0 <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/>, via Wikimedia Commons

1) When the British ruled Myanmar, it was called Burma. When Myanmar won its independence, the British continued to call the country Burma. In 1989, however, the ruling military changed its name from Burma to Myanmar, which is the Burmese name for the country.

2) Myanmar’s population is extremely diverse, being made up of over a hundred ethnic groups. The majority of the population practice Buddhism, making it the primary religion in the country.

3) Burmese is the official language spoken in Myanmar.

4) Myanmar borders Bangladesh, China, Thailand, and Laos.

5) The first military coup in Myanmar happened in 1962. From 1962 until 2011, the country was under direct military rule. It wasn’t until 2010 that a general election resulted in a new ruling party. Approximately a decade later, the military stages another coup and takes over the ruling government.